T-Mobile has announced that it will be the first US carrier to begin offering LTE-U support later this spring. The news comes after a recent FCC ruling certifying LTE-U base stations from Ericsson and Nokia earlier this week.
LTE-U, or LTE-Unlicensed, is based on utilizing unused frequency in the 5 GHz band used by Wi-Fi routers for LTE service. The technology was originally proposed by Qualcomm as a component of the new LTE Advanced standard, with the idea of using the unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to improve cellular data speeds and coverage. T-Mobile notes in its press release that its LTE-U implementation will smartly use the available spectrum, increasing when Wi-Fi demand is low and decreasing when there’s greater Wi-Fi usage.
In order to take advantage of the speed boost from LTE-U, however, customers will need a compatible device — of which there aren’t any currently on the market. That could change next week with multiple companies planning to announce new devices at Mobile World Congress.