T-Mobile’s star has been ascending the last few years. Most people are familiar by now with the unconventional business strategies that T-Mobile, led by their CEO John Legere, has been implementing via their Un-carrier campaign. Backing those efforts to attract and retain customers is a corresponding set of moves by T-Mobile to make improvements to their network speeds and capacity. Today the carrier announced the pending launch of LTE-U capability on the T-Mobile LTE network.
LTE-U is a technology that makes use of unlicensed spectrum to supplement the traditional LTE network. One way this is done is by using up to 20 MHz of underutilized spectrum in the 5 GHz band. You may be familiar with the 5 GHz band as that is the same spectrum used for some WiFi deployments and many wireless routers and access points today support both the traditional 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band.
T-Mobile is in a position to tap into this new spectrum thanks to new certifications by the FCC of equipment produced by Ericsson and Nokia. T-Mobile says they started conducting field tests in December 2016, so they are ready to start rolling out this new technology.
“T-Mobile’s network is second to none, with more capacity per customer than the Duopoly…and LTE-U will only accelerate our lead,” T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray stated while also noting T-Mobile’s successful efforts to be a leader in deploying new technologies first in order to help customers.
When the new LTE-U technology lights up, customer equipment will be able to tap into unlicensed spectrum in a way that does not impact other users on the same band, like the aforementioned WiFi users on 5 GHz channels. The LTE-U technology will seek out underutilized channels for use. In addition, as the technology detects WiFi or other uses in the band increasing, it will shift traffic back to the traditional LTE bands.
The bottom line for T-Mobile customers should be consistently faster speeds. The carrier already claims several speed champ trophies over rival carriers depending on who is doing the testing. The new LTE-U should help them build on that success. The additional capacity also means customers should be less likely to suffer negative effects from network congestion.
T-Mobile did not indicate which markets will be getting LTE-U support or a timeframe outside of “spring.”