T-Mobile Expects LTE-U to Feature Listen-Before-Talk
May 6, 2015
CHICAGO -- INTX -- Concerns regarding LTE-Unlicensed being "rude" and hijacking the WiFi bands it's running on still persist, but one of its biggest proponents, T-Mobile, is prepared to play nice -- even if not forced to.
LTE-Unlicensed, or Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), is the use of LTE in 5GHz unlicensed spectrum bands to give a speed boost for apps like video streaming. It's controversial because, by its nature, LTE-U has the potential to overtake the 5GHz band it's operating in, degrading or even cutting off service to the WiFi devices that have happily occupied that frequency for years. (See Jury Still Out on LTE-Unlicensed and Why Some Operators Think LTE-U Is Rude.)
In Europe, it is mandated that LTE-U include a listen-before-talk (LBT) protocol from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 's LTE Release 13, which necessitates a change to the physical layer of LTE so it can coexist harmoniously with WiFi. This isn't required in the US, South Korea, China or India, so operators are free to begin LTE-U deployments earlier using Release 10, 11 or 12 protocols. That said, T-Mobile US Inc. National Director Tony Silveira said he expects LBT to be built into the design process in the US as well. (See Qualcomm Brings LTE-U to Small Cells.)