updated 11:31 am EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Extra capacity added to LTE in tests by using 5GHz unlicensed spectrum
Carriers could use Wi-Fi spectrum to extend capacity for its LTE service in the future, if new research is adopted. Researchers from Japanese carrier NTT Docomo and Huawei have managed to use the 5GHz unlicensed spectrum, typically used for Wi-Fi, to operate an LTE network, with the extra bandwidth having the potential to enhance existing LTE cellular networks.
The technology is called Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), reports Engadget, and has been in indoor testing since February of this year. Tests found that LAA in the 5GHz spectrum allowed for a cell capacity 1.6 times greater than IEEE 802.11n, with the findings found to be enough to make Docomo plan to use the technology by March of next year. It is suggested LAA using the 5GHz spectrum could specifically help the carrier in "dense traffic areas," such as cities, and should still coexist with normal Wi-Fi networks.
Though promising, LAA has yet to be standardized by regulators, and will likely continue to be worked on for a few more years before US and European carriers adopt the technology.