Hong Kong mobile operator SmarTone and Sweden-based equipment vendor Ericsson conducted a trial of Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology over a live network in the territory.

The field trial, which the companies claimed was a first in Hong Kong, aggregated 10MHz of licensed LTE spectrum with three 20MHz bands of unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to achieve peak download speeds of up to 800Mb/s.

Together with four-component carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM technologies, the over-the-air demo used a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE mobile test device and Ericsson’s Micro Radio 2205 for LAA, which is designed for unlicensed spectrum use.

SmarTone CTO Stephen Chau said LAA is an important technological evolution and will be widely adopted in the US and European markets in the near future.

More testing
In July, SK Telecom (SKT), the largest mobile operator in South Korea, achieved a peak data speed of 1Gb/s using Ericsson’s LAA equipment during indoor tests. The operator used one LTE 20MHz band and three Wi-Fi 20MHz bands, and applied Ericsson’s 4×4 MIMO functionality in the LTE frequency.

In the US, AT&T partnered with Ericsson in June in what was called “one of the first-ever live LTE-LAA field trials”, achieving speeds of more than 650Mb/s in downtown San Francisco, while T-Mobile US said its field tests in Los Angeles “showed blazing 741Mb/s download speeds”. T-Mobile said the technology is “live in select locations” across the US, with more rolling out later this year.

LTE-LAA combines licensed 4G spectrum with unlicensed frequencies in the 5GHz band to deliver higher speeds. LAA is a key technology as operators evolve their networks to achieve gigabit LTE speeds, which requires more spectrum than what most operators have access to. By opening up previously untapped resources of unlicensed spectrum using LAA, operators can deliver speeds once thought only possible over fibre.

Ericsson said in a statement future enhancements of LAA will support five-component carrier aggregation in 2018 and allow download speeds exceeding 1Gb/s.

SmarTone is the smallest of four operators in Hong Kong and holds a 16 per cent share of the territory’s mobile connections, according to GSMA Intelligence.