Nokia talks up LTE-U tech ahead of T-Mo US rollout

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Nokia Networks has become the latest vendor to tap into licenced assist access (LAA) technology in a bid to boost operators' connectivity options.

LAA, or LTE-U, uses a mix of licensed LTE spectrum and the 5GHz frequency band, which is largely used for Wi-Fi currently. By using carrier aggregation between the two bands, operators can increase connectivity indoors and via hotspots.

Nokia Networks will hold a demonstration of the technology using its Flex Zone small cells at next week's Mobile World Congress. US carrier T-Mobile, which has deployed these small cells, said it plans to roll out LAA in the future.

Under current timelines, LAA is planned for standardisation by 3GPP by the middle of next year. Nokia Networks said it is aiming to integrate LAA capabilities into its range of small cells by the end of 2015.

Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile US, commented: "LAA is an attractive solution to tap the unused potential of the 5GHz band to give our customers LTE efficiencies and smooth co-existence with Wi-Fi. Nokia Networks' early demo not only shows the next generation of small cells, but is a critical first step to staying ahead of the increasing LTE capacity demand. Our mission is giving our customers better mobile performance and capacity when and where they need it the most."

Earlier this month, T-Mobile US joined Verizon and SK Telecom in attending a demonstration of LAA technology held by Nokia Networks' rival Ericsson.

The Swedish vendor hit speeds of 450MBps by using a mix of licensed and unlicensed spectrum. It said the technology was "pre-5G" in how it offers operators a means of alleviating strained networks.

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