Qualcomm Technologies (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Deutsche Telekom (DT) announced the successful testing of LTE Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA) in Germany, but don't expect that to narrow the gap between the arrival of LAA and LTE-U in the U.S.
One argument in favor of LTE-U, which generated enough controversy in the U.S. to prompt the FCC to get involved, was the idea that it could be available faster than LAA, which is going through the 3GPP standards process. LTE-U was designed outside of open standards bodies, which is one reason it raised the ire of the cable and Wi-Fi industries.
With the successful test of LAA, does that mean it will be available sooner rather than later? Not exactly. "There's still a time to market advantage with LTE-U," said Puneet Sethl, director, small cells, product management and business development at Qualcomm Atheros.
The 3GPP is currently developing LAA in Release 13, and the present target for completion of 3GPP standardization for that is the first half of 2016, with the earliest product expected in 2017, according to Durga Malladi, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm.
For regions like the U.S. and Korea without specific access procedures based on listen before talk (LBT), interested operators can work with ecosystem vendors to deploy LTE-U as downlink-only in the unlicensed band based on LTE Release 10/11/12 standards that are readily available, with implementations such as channel selection and CSAT that ensure good co-existence with Wi-Fi and other technologies, as defined by the LTE-U forum, Malladi told FierceWirelessTech. The earliest commercial readiness for end-to-end launch is expected to be 2016.
Qualcomm's over-the-air trial with DT was completed on Nov. 20, 2015, in Nuremberg, Germany, after a three-week period of extensive measurement campaigns. The trial used LAA test equipment designed and deployed by Qualcomm Research, the R&D division of Qualcomm Technologies. Deutsche Telekom provided the licensed spectrum for the LTE anchor carrier augmented with 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum and used on a multiple node LAA test network deployed over Qualcomm Technologies' Nuremberg campus.
"LAA is one of the key technologies that will help satisfy the increasing demand for data and better mobile connectivity," said Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, chief technology officer, Deutsche Telekom, in a press release. "The trial will help the wireless ecosystem and key stakeholders verify and experience the benefits of LAA first hand."
LAA provided extended coverage and increased network capacity in unlicensed spectrum compared to Wi-Fi, as well as smooth aggregation of unlicensed spectrum during drive tests that also included seamless inter-eNB handovers, according to the companies. They also said that fair coexistence between LAA and Wi-Fi in unlicensed 5 GHz bands was demonstrated under different radio interference conditions and for a varied number of interfering nodes.
Qualcomm received FCC approval last week to conduct tests in of LTE-U equipment at two Verizon (NYSE: VZ) sites in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Raleigh, N.C. LTE-U devices will require equipment authorization by the FCC Laboratory before they can be marketed in the United States.
- see the release
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