OnQ Blog

LTE Unlicensed – what it is, how it works, and a sweet juggling act [VIDEO]

Oct 9, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Providing users with the wireless capacity they demand is one of today’s big technical challenges—and a major juggling act. 

We need more spectrum, and we need to make the best use of all spectrum types—both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. A key solution is LTE Unlicensed, a collection of technologies designed to extend the benefits of 4G LTE into unlicensed spectrum.

Unlike licensed spectrum, which is reserved for exclusive use, unlicensed spectrum is the kind of airwaves that anyone can utilize to deploy a wireless communication system (as long as they meet regulatory requirements; for example, for power and emissions levels). That includes systems such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones and garage doors openers, most of which use the 2.4 GHz band.

LTE Unlicensed will use the 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum band and share it with newer variants of Wi-Fi. The technology is designed to avoid Wi-Fi users by selecting another of the many unlicensed channels that are available in 5 GHz. But in the atypical case where LTE Unlicensed and Wi-Fi have to share the exact same channel, the two technologies will peacefully coexist.

We could show you using a diagram, but we thought it would be way more fun to use a troop of world-class jugglers instead: