Over the past two years, LTE-U has caused an ongoing debate in the industry about the feasibility of this approach and its coexistence with Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum. The 3GPP is standardizing the technology as LTE-LAA within its upcoming Release 13 specifications, while network equipment providers have already started to support the feature in their small cell products. Most importantly, Tier One mobile operators like Verizon and T-Mobile are trialing LTE-U for possible early deployments in 2016.
Other unlicensed LTE technologies have also emerged, offering different options for utilizing the unlicensed spectrum and expanding the deployment scenarios. LWA, for example, aggregated Wi-Fi and LTE links to enhance the network capacity. MulteFire is another technology that allows running LTE completely in the unlicensed spectrum with no support from a licensed carrier.
With all these different technologies developing and their direct or indirect effects on the Wi-Fi and cellular markets, stakeholders in these markets look to understand the potential effect on their businesses and which one to adopt, if any.
This report discusses the main technical and business aspects of unlicensed LTE technologies including technology definition, the value proposition to operators, the regulatory aspects, coexistence in the unlicensed spectrum and channel fair-sharing, standardization efforts and roadmap, operators' and vendors' market activities, and infrastructure growth projection.