Sprint enters LAA race

11 DEC 2017

Sprint joined US rivals in exploring unlicensed spectrum with its first publicly announced test of Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology.

Outgoing Sprint COO of Technology Gunther Ottendorfer shared the news in a Tweet on Friday (8 December), noting the operator collaborated with SpiderCloud Wireless to achieve speeds of between 120Mb/s and 140Mb/s using 5MHz of licensed spectrum.

Notably, the test appears to be Sprint’s first public foray into the unlicensed arena. A Sprint representative confirmed to Mobile World Live LAA is on the operator’s long-term roadmap as it “complements our network strategy and builds on what we’re already doing today with LTE and Wi-Fi.” The representative added the operator is “focused on providing the best, most reliable service regardless of whether a customer is connected through licensed or unlicensed spectrum.”

Until now, Sprint made clear it intends to hit the gigabit mark without the aid of unlicensed spectrum. Instead, CTO John Saw indicated Sprint will use its reserve of 2.5GHz spectrum and technologies like Massive MIMO.

The new approach brings Sprint into line with rivals. Both T-Mobile US and Verizon, which initially pursued LTE-Unlicensed technology, confirmed a shift in their focus to LAA: Verizon achieved speeds of 953Mb/s using LAA and T-Mobile recently surpassed 1Gb/s using 12-layer LAA, 256QAM and 4×4 MIMO.

At an event in November, T-Mobile revealed to Mobile World Live (MWL) it plans to deploy LAA alongside two bands of licensed spectrum in new modular small cells. Verizon similarly told MWL it is gearing up for widespread deployment of the technology in 2018.

AT&T is also pushing ahead with LAA. In June, the operator achieved speeds of more than 650Mb/s in tests of the technology, and in November followed up with its first LAA deployment. At the time, an AT&T representative told (MWL) the operator plans to expand its LAA deployments to additional cities.

Author

Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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