T-Mobile USA is bound to implement an LTE-U technology for the same frequencies of 5GHz which are used by Wi-Fi complying with the US government approval regarding LTE-U devices. On February 22, the Federal Communications Commission has enabled the first LTE-U technology after the contentious process created to assure that the network use of the 5GHz band will not disrupt the Wi-Fi networks.
After the decision of the Federal Communications Commission, T-Mobile declared that now that the LTE-U will be launched this spring, customers will be able to make use of the first 20MHz of unexploited and unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz network. Then, they will use it for additional LTE capacity. T-Mobile is prone to install LTE-U technology from Nokia and Ericsson due to the fact that their equipment was certified on February 22 by the FCC.
T-Mobile is hopeful, arguing that LTE-U technology will help them achieve their goal of providing gigabit LTE speeds. However, Verizon Wireless is also bound to use LTE-U technology. Back in September, the company stated that it is keen on implementing this technology to design a testing plan for their equipment. Nevertheless, the company did not say exactly when this will happen.
Generally, cellular carriers in the United States implement exclusive licenses to spectrum. On the other hand, Wi-Fi usually works on unlicensed frequencies. Anyone is allowed to run in unlicensed spectrum without having an FCC license. However, they need to use licensed radio equipment and adhere to the technical requirements and power limits imposed.
On February 22, Ajit Pai, the Chairman of FCC, claimed that LTE-U provides wireless providers the chance to deliver mobile data traffic by employing unlicensed spectrum while sharing the opportunity with Wi-Fi. This plan of implementing LTE to unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum started industry debate. Back in 2015, LTE-U implementation plans faced obstacles, being prevented by the Wi-Fi Alliance and some cable companies.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is an industry group which ensures equipment that will not interfere with the use of other Wi-Fi equipment. Several industry groups collaborated to create a test plan to avoid the interference. The Wi-Fi Alliance is pleased to obtain these results, even if the new testing program is voluntary, not being required by the FCC.
Pai noted that FCC personnel attested that the LTE-U technology which was approved on February 22 is in compliance with the rules imposed by the FCC.
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