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LTE, WiFi sharing offers sol'n to ease network congestion

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ericsson? LTE? WiFi? LAA? picocell?

Ericsson, a Swedish telecoms equipment vendor, has announced its latest product and technology that claim to provide data hungry smartphone users simultaneous access to both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Set to be part of its small cells portfolio, the company is priming a device in its 6402 series of Radio Dot picocells to which it has added a technology that it calls Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).

This is a subset of LTE-Advanced technology aimed at allowing carriers to aggregate and "fairly share" the public 5GHz band with the unlicensed WiFi spectrum. The proposition is that 5GHz services will handle the mobile data heavy lifting, particularly in indoor locations where it would be deployed on the picocells alongside 3G and LTE. For now, the signalling will still be the job of the conventional cellular network, but when required, could flip the LTE payload over to the public band, thus taking advantage of the higher capacity available there.

Using unlicensed spectrum as leverage

The set up "would significantly improve app coverage for all smartphone users, increasing speeds on LAA-enabled devices, reducing wireless network congestion and ensuring fair sharing between LTE and WiFi," noted Ericsson.

According to its calculations, using just four per cent of the 5GHz band, LAA can provide up to a 150Mb/s data rate increase to smartphone users. An even more mouth-watering prospect is the suggestion that each additional four per cent of available spectrum used would increase data speeds even further. "One of the great things about LAA is its 'rising tide' effect, increasing system capacity and making way for better service to all users in the area, whether they have an LAA-enabled device, or are using WiFi or cellular access," stated Thomas Noren, VP, head of radio product management at Ericsson.

This is a clear sign that Ericsson sees such a combination of licensed and unlicensed frequencies as yet another potential path to the much vaunted 5G networks of beyond 2020, in whose development and standardisation the Swedish group is playing a major role. The company plans to have its first small cell product ready by 4Q15, with indications that it will retail at about $2000 and, in a coordinated announcement at the CES, said it has teamed with T-Mobile in the US to trial the technology over the coming months.

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