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AT&T, T-Mobile US conduct dueling LAA tests; LTE-U goes live

T-Mobile US achieves 741 Mbps, AT&T scores speeds of 650 Mbps

AT&T and T-Mobile US are both pushing ahead with the use of unlicensed spectrum at 5 GHz, and the results of field tests show that T-Mobile US is edging out AT&T in terms of speed. T-Mobile US reported that it achieved 741 megabits per second speeds in the downlink using License-Assisted Access and 80 megahertz of aggregated spectrum, while AT&T laid claim to speeds of around 650 Mbps.

T-Mobile US started its testing in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday; while AT&T and Ericsson did their testing in downtown San Francisco.

AT&T said that an initial roll-out of LAA “is expected to play a key role” as AT&T aims to reach gigabit LTE speeds at “some small cell sites by the end of the year,” and added that “it’s also one of the technologies we’re using to enhance the network and boost speeds in our 5G Evolution markets.”

AT&T launched its “5G Evolution” initiative — which despite the name, utilizes LTE Advanced Pro technologies — in April in Austin, Tex. and plans to have support in more than 20 major metro areas by the end of 2017, including Indianapolis, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Francisco. In contrast, based on executive comments, AT&T expects a 2018-2019 timeframe for deploying millimeter wave-based 5G, with scaling in 2020.

T-Mobile US goes live with LTE-U

T-Mobile US isn’t just testing LAA in unlicensed spectrum — the carrier said that its network now supports the use of LTE-U in some locations in Bellevue, Wash.; Brooklyn, New York; Dearborn, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Richardson, Tex.; and Simi Valley, Calif. T-Mobile US said that more sites will roll out as the year goes on.

T-Mobile US said in February that it was starting roll-outs of LTE-U, which also uses LTE in the 5 GHz unlicensed band but relies on a proprietary duty-cycling approach to coexistence, rather than LAA’s listen-before-talk strategy. LTE-U in particular has been met with wariness by the Wi-Fi community, worried that the technology will interference with existing and future Wi-Fi deployments at 5 GHz, and the industry spent much of 2016 working on a test plan to ensure coexistence.

 

Image: 123RF

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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