AT&T Now Using WCS Spectrum for LTE – Will Test LTE-U

Posted by at 12:44 pm on September 10, 2015

AT&T LogoAT&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. 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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