Engadget alerts us to researchers at NTT Docomo and Huawei who have just announced that they have been successfully in broadcasting LTE service on unlicensed 5GHz spectrum, a frequency typically used for WiFi.
The indoor test found that LAA can work in 5GHz bandwidth, leading to cell capacity of approximately 1.6 times greater than that of IEEE 802.11n, a standard specification for WLAN. This significant result was a positive indication that LAA can be utilized as an enhancement of LTE, and also LTE-Advanced, which DOCOMO plans to launch by March 2015. For example, higher-speed data communications and a higher cell capacity in dense traffic areas should be achievable by utilizing the 5GHz spectrum for LTE and LTE-Advanced on a complementary basis in coexistence with wireless LAN. - NTTDocomo
The use of this spectrum would increase LTE service in heavy-using areas by offloading wireless data in congested areas. LTE-U is expected to provide more security, better coverage and lower deployment costs.
The pair have been researching LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U), what they call “Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA),” since February and vow to continue experimenting with how licensed and unlicensed spectrum can work together. For now, they’ve demonstrated on multiple-cell pre-commercial networks that LTE works in 5GHz unlicensed spectrum, achieving better coverage and capacity than WiFi alone. - LightReading
Licensed spectrum is now used by mobile operators who are given access to the licensed spectrum by telecom authorities for a price.