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U Authorization Paves Way for T-Mobile Gigabit LTE

T-Mobile launching LTE-U in spring 2017 to increase LTE capacity

T-Mobile's LTE network is recognized as America's fastest according to multiple independent third-party studies (Speedtest.net, Twin Prime, the FCC and OpenSignal) These tests are also based on billions of real-time, crowd-sourced tests by millions of real customers, not paid consultants, using their own devices where they live, work and play. At which time, its customers will be able to access the first 20MHz of "underutilized unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band" (T-Mobile's words) and use it for additional LTE capacity.

"LTE-U will make it possible for T-Mobile to bring its forthcoming Gigabit LTE to more places across the country", a press release from T-Mobile read.

Minutes later, T-Mobile announced that thanks to the decision, it will begin rolling out LTE-U devices within a matter of months.

In fact, the company has been discussing its LTE over 5GHz plans since late 2014.

The downside is that the new technology will not solve the biggest problem users have with T-Mobile, which is coverage.

Fronting the battle for the Wi-Fi side has been the Wi-Fi Alliance, with support from Google and a number of cable operators, many of whom have built extensive public Wi-Fi networks for their customers.

Short for "LTE-Unlicensed", LTE-U is a variant of the 4G LTE that millions of Americans rely on every day. Even though the new testing is voluntary rather than required by the FCC, the Wi-Fi Alliance declared that it is satisfied with the result. That possibility appears to have vanished, given the FCC's approval today, but proof of LTE-U's compatibility will come - or not - with large-scale deployment. The 5 GHz band that this spectrum occupies is actually used by a variety of wireless technologies, including but not limited to Wi-Fi.

"It means [consumers] get to enjoy the best of both worlds: a more robust, seamless experience when their devices are using cellular networks and the continued enjoyment of WiFi, one of the most creative uses of spectrum in history", added FCC Chairman Pai. Hardware manufacturers like Qualcomm, Nokia and Ericsson are already onboard, and it's expected that others will join the race to fill the gap between LTE and 5G. Both companies had their equipment certified by the FCC on February 2. Just keep in mind that you'll need a device that supports this feature to take advantage of the improvements that it offers. "Nokia is committed to working alongside T-Mobile to bring new solutions to market", Ricky Corker, Nokia EVP and Head of North America said. "Ericsson has been working in close collaboration with our partners to ensure that this technology will work in harmony with Wi-Fi, utilizing unlicensed spectrum in an optimal way".

The FCC said yesterday that it had authorized some LTE-U devices for use in unlicensed portions of the 5 GHz band.