Verizon's LTE-U Forum completes LTE Unlicensed tests on way toward carrier's 2016 deployment in 5 GHz, 3.5 GHz

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) released its first technical report evaluating the use of LTE in unlicensed spectrum, which the operator calls LTE-U. Verizon said the release of the report represents "an important step toward demonstrating how LTE-U can coexist with Wi-Fi and other technologies that share unlicensed spectrum."

"Verizon has long been a leader in LTE, with the largest, most reliable 4G LTE network in the United States that consumers rely on every day where they work, live and play," said Ed Chan, senior vice president of network technology and planning for Verizon. "With LTE-U, we believe we'll be able to leverage every available technology to help deliver more connectivity for customers."

"Verizon looks forward to working with the unlicensed community to ensure that consumers can choose the best connectivity available to meet their needs without negatively impacting other unlicensed users," Chan said. 

Verizon earlier this year announced that it plans to deploy LTE Unlicensed technology in the 5 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands starting in 2016.

Verizon's announcement is noteworthy considering it was released during the Mobile World Congress trade show, where a wide variety of network and chipset vendors are discussing ways of moving LTE transmissions through unlicensed spectrum--and how best to protect existing Wi-Fi users in that spectrum.

Verizon's use of the LTE-U nomenclature is also noteworthy considering LTE-U was recently renamed by the 3GPP as Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA) to stress the point to government spectrum regulators that the use of LTE on a secondary carrier in an unlicensed band would be accompanied by a licensed primary carrier.

Verizon said its report was released through the LTE-U Forum, which the carrier said it formed in 2014 "in cooperation" with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung. That Verizon specifically said it formed the LTE-U Forum last year could be a subtle poke by the operator at T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), which generated a significant amount of noise earlier this year when it said it plans to experiment with Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology, which also promises to transmit LTE data over unlicensed spectrum.

T-Mobile this week clarified its plans, explaining that it is teaming up with Qualcomm and Alcatel-Lucent to use LTE in the unlicensed spectrum, with trials beginning this year using LTE-U enabled small cells from Alcatel-Lucent that are equipped with Qualcomm Technologies' FSM99xx family of small cell system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. T-Mobile plans to commercially deploy the technology in the first half of 2016.

Tests of LAA and LTE-U are intended to convince Wi-Fi proponents that LTE transmissions in unlicensed spectrum won't unduly affect other users of the bands.

Verizon Wireless' Mike Haberman in September 2014 first discussed Verizon's LTE-U tests during a FierceWireless event held in conjunction with CTIA's Super Mobility Week.

For more:
- see this Verizon release

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