Verizon touts 1.4 Gbps LTE speeds with unlicensed spectrum, carrier aggregation

Verizon said it was able to obtain a peak data rate of 1.4 Gbps on its LTE network by using unlicensed spectrum and carrier aggregation technology.

“When we first launched our LTE network, we knew there would be a lot of room for innovation and to expand its capabilities. Eight years later, we continue our advancement of our 4G LTE network knowing our LTE network leadership is foundational for our evolution into 5G,” said Bill Stone, Verizon’s VP of technology planning and development, in a release.

The speeds are noteworthy considering Verizon is touting 300 Mbps averages and 1 Gbps peaks on its new fixed 5G network running in 28 GHz spectrum.

Verizon and its partners Nokia and Qualcomm said they were able to achieve the 1.4 Gbps peak speed on a commercial LTE network in New York by using six-channel carrier aggregation, an LTE Advanced technology. Carrier aggregation essentially allows wireless operators to glue together transmissions across different spectrum bands for faster overall download speeds. Verizon and other network operators have already employed various combinations of carrier aggregation technology, though mostly in the two- and four-channel configuration.

For its New York effort specifically, Verizon said it combined one carrier of its licensed PCS spectrum with one carrier of its licensed AWS spectrum and four carriers of LAA (License Assisted Access) spectrum. LAA technology has arisen as a major new development in the wireless space—the technology essentially allows wireless network operators to expand their operations into unlicensed spectrum where available, inside an LTE data transmission. Much like adding additional lanes to a freeway, LAA adds additional channels for data transmissions for faster speeds—albeit in unlicensed spectrum.

T-Mobile and others are also deploying LAA technologies. Indeed, T-Mobile in February said it and Nokia achieved download speeds of 1.3 Gbps using Nokia’s commercial AirScale platform to support 14-layer transmissions.

Verizon’s 1.4 Gbps announcement is just the latest action by the carrier to improve and speed up its network. The operator continues to add small cells and fiber backhaul in select locations, and is also in the process of deploying 5G, first in a fixed scenario and next year in a mobile configuration.