AT&T Finally Using WCS Spectrum for LTE; Will Test LTE-U
AT&T has begun deploying LTE on its 2.3GHz WCS spectrum in a handful of markets around the country. Earlier this year, AT&T said it would begin the deployment by summer, and it is just meeting that commitment. Phones with LTE band 30 are able to take advantage of the new network capacity. AT&T did not specify which markets are gaining WCS coverage, nor how quickly it will build out coverage around the country. AT&T is, however, expected to start with markets that have more capacity requirements. The WCS spectrum is helpful in adding capacity in markets that rely chiefly on 700MHz for LTE. In a separate announcement, AT&T said it plans to begin trailing LTE-U technology late this year or early next year. LTE-U delivers LTE over unlicensed spectrum normally reserved for WiFi. Tom Keathley, senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design with AT&T, said the carrier will use the tests to determine whether or not it will deploy LTE-U on a broader scale. "There will be no devices until early next year anyway," said Keathley to Fierce Wireless. "So the timing is reasonable." One issue facing LTE-U is sharing the spectrum in a way that's fair. AT&T said it wants assurances that it will be able to avoid interference before committing to LTE-U in a meaningful way. Critics of LTE-U, however, worry that carriers will have too much control over the balance of spectrum used for LTE when compared to the amount reserved for WiFi. T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are also exploring LTE-U.
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