U.S. operators are not the only ones pursuing Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) in a big way. Canada’s Telus reports that it recently completed the first test of LAA on indoor and outdoor live networks in Canada, delivering download speeds of 970 Mbps indoors and 966 Mbps outdoors.
The nearly 1 Gigabit speeds were carried out in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, where Telus has a “5G Living Lab” where it can conduct trials of next-generation technologies in a real-world setting. The test used 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum in a live, dynamic production network.
LAA is an LTE Advanced Pro technology that works by combining licensed wireless spectrum with unlicensed spectrum where it's publicly accessible. What consumers see is higher throughput and a better overall network experience.
Huawei is a significant partner in the Living Lab, and last summer, the two companies announced a 5G pilot that was set up to reflect a real-world point-to-multipoint connection over commercial central office equipment and transport networks. The network used equipment based on 3GPP 5G foundational technologies over a 28 GHz connection.
Telus customers will be able to see the speed benefits of LAA later this year. Telus plans to continue its LAA deployments through 2017 and into 2018 in various locations across Canada that have high volumes of pedestrian traffic, including hotels, office buildings, arenas and public outdoor sites.
“As the first carrier in Canada to successfully deploy LAA, we're able to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum to offer our customers with even faster speeds and more capacity,” said Telus CTO Ibrahim Gedeon in a statement. “As we work with industry partners and regulatory bodies to enable new spectrum for the benefit of Canadians, our award-winning network will continue to get faster and faster as we lay the foundation for our next-generation 5G networks."
In the U.S., both Verizon and T-Mobile pursued LTE-U technology as a steppingstone to LAA. AT&T, however, skipped LTE-U and went straight to LAA, saying the LAA standards were progressing relatively quickly and preferring the full-blown listen-before-talk capabilities in LAA. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ were the first handsets on the market to take advantage of both LTE-U and LAA.