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Qualcomm's LTE-U technology will boost LTE connectivity by using unlicensed 5GHz band

By James Lu - on 2 Mar 2015, 9:37pm

Qualcomm's LTE-U technology will boost LTE connectivity by using unlicensed 5GHz band

At MWC 2015, Qualcomm is introducing new LTE-U chips with technology that will make use of the unlicensed 5GHz spectrum currently in use by Wi-Fi networks. The idea is for carriers to install many small LTE-U cells in public locations, which would end up boosting the signal of their big towers that work on the licensed spectrum.

Qualcomm VP of Small Cells, Neville Meijers stated that mobile data consumption could read 1000 times what it is today within just 10 years, so new solutions such as LTE-U will be needed to cope with that growth. Meijers further stated that LTE-U will work in harmony with Wi-Fi signals, and will not threaten Wi-Fi networks by increasing congestion in the available Wi-Fi spectrum.

This image shows an existing LTE + WiFi network. The yellow bars on the right of the image represent each user's mbps. The last bar on the far right is a Wi-Fi only user.

This image shows an LTE-U network, with all users receiving LTE connectivity via both the licensed and unlicensed band. The last user remains on Wi-Fi only and his bandwidth has not been affected.

As LTE-U is activated, each user's download speed increases. Even the Wi-Fi only user (far right) gets a small boost in speed, with everyone else on LTE-U.

The first chipset family to integrate the LTE-U technology will be the FSM99xx, which should be available to Qualcomm's mobile device partners for testing in the second half of this year. The first consumer devices with LTE-U technology should be available in the first half of 2016.

“The FSM99xx family is designed to bring outdoor, enterprise and small and medium business access points to the next level of value and performance,” said Neville Meijers, vice president of business development, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Adding LTE-U technology to our small cell solutions will provide additional capacity for operators to augment existing mobile broadband and deliver seamless connectivity experiences.”

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