But first, what is LTE in Unlicensed Bands?
LTE in Unlicensed Bands is a new innovative feature in 4G/LTE wireless networks that uses unlicensed spectrum. Wi-Fi was introduced into unlicensed bands as a new service without government approval, and just like Wi-Fi, LTE in Unlicensed Bands is being developed through industry bodies. It has also undergone significant real-world coexistence testing that demonstrates it is a good neighbor that will not interfere with Wi-Fi.
Consumers will benefit from LTE in Unlicensed Bands with:
Faster peak speeds;
Reduced latency (lag time); and
Smoother transitions between carrier networks and unlicensed bands.
Meanwhile, the mobile network operators that are already efficient spectrum users will be even more efficient thanks to this newly available technology.
Your teacher also probably said that sharing is nice, and that’s why LTE in Unlicensed Bands will “fair share” to accommodate traditional Wi-Fi signals and other unlicensed services.
There are three mechanisms to avoiding interference with Wi-Fi:
The LTE in Unlicensed Bands small cell senses the nearby area and looks for a vacant unlicensed channel.
If it cannot find one, it uses the least crowded by using a “Listen before talk” channel sensing capability called Carrier Sense Adaptive Transmission (CSAT). Then it takes turn with Wi-Fi users to enable successful coexistence.
LTE in Unlicensed Bands uses an on/off routine to use the channel in a fair, proportionate share so it is vacated quickly. It’s never more than 50 milliseconds. It also has gaps that allow latency sensitive applications like VoIP, to not be impacted.
Why do the carriers want to use LTE in Unlicensed Bands?
Spectrum, which fuels our mobile usage, is a finite resource. In order to maximize spectrum and ensure that wireless carriers can continue to meet Americans’ demand for mobile usage, it must be used fully.
Thanks to network engineers at various organizations, they figured out that LTE in Unlicensed Bands was a way to maximize spectrum that will benefit consumers.