Mobile networks run on wireless spectrum and its foundation is licensed spectrum. To meet the ever increasing data demand, we need to make the best use of all spectrum types, which requires both Wi-Fi and LTE Unlicensed based technologies.
LTE Advanced in licensed spectrum provides the best performance with predictable quality of experience and seamless mobility. It is augmented by unlicensed spectrum solutions.
Unlicensed spectrum is used by multiple technologies—which means reduced performance compared to licensed spectrum—but is ideal for local area access, and opportunistic use for mobile broadband. Today’s Wi-Fi solutions continue to evolve for improved performance.
Now we are extending many of LTE’s performance benefits to unlicensed spectrum, providing better capacity, range, security, manageability and mobility, especially for dense deployments.
Augmented with Wi-Fi and LTE Unlicensed solutions
LTE based technology in unlicensed spectrum: LTE-U, LAA, and MuLTEfire™
802.11 n/ac/ad/ax based technology in unlicensed spectrum
For mobile operators, the best performance is reached by aggregating unlicensed spectrum with a licensed spectrum LTE anchor. The two main solutions are:
LTE-U, along with LWA, is supported by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 processor with X12 LTE, as well as the discrete Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. This is a good example of how multiple technologies are required to make the best use of all spectrum: LTE Advanced carrier aggregation, tri-band Wi-Fi with 802.11n, 802.11ac MU-MIMO and 802.11ad, and now also LTE-U and LWA.
Aggregation with licensed spectrum brings the best out of unlicensed spectrum:
Depending on their assets, operators could employ either LTE – Wi-Fi link aggregation or LTE Unlicensed. However, many will do both as they target different deployment scenarios.
LTE - Wi-Fi link aggregation leverages existing and new carrier Wi-Fi deployments and utilizes both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The aggregation is possible even when LTE and Wi-Fi access points are at different physical locations.
LTE – Wi-Fi aggregation allows operators to fully manage Wi-Fi resources through the LTE anchor. This ensures better load balancing between the LTE and Wi-Fi links. Since aggregation is performed at the modem-level, it can adapt to the fast changing signal and loading conditions on both links. LTE – Wi-Fi link aggregation is part of 3GPP Rel 13.
For operators deploing new small cells, LTE Unlicensed is the best choice;
LTE-U and LAA represent the deepest level of aggregation, as they use the same technology, same network and same small cells for both spectrum types. Hence, it will provide the best performance in terms of capacity and user experience through the unified network .
Qualcomm Technologies has demonstrated the LTE-U/Wi-Fi fair coexistence at many global events such as CES and MWC and performed extensive over-the-air testing in the lab and in the field. Extensive Industry collaboration across the Wi-Fi and mobile industries are helping to further refine coexistence specifications and test cases, to ensure that LTE Unlicensed is a good neighbor to Wi-Fi.