Huawei and Vodafone in LAA LAA Land with latest ‘world first’

Huawei has laid claim to yet another world ‘first’, after a project with Vodafone successfully proved the live potential for License Assisted Access technology (LAA).

Huawei utilised LAA technology on a live Vodafone network in Turkey, using standardised technology based on the 3GPP’s release 13 standards. According to the Chinese kit vendor, the introduction of LAA demonstrates a co-existence with wifi in similar frequency bands, while also making more efficient use of the same spectrum blocks. In essence, LAA is supposedly more efficient and faster than wifi – the coexistence of which has been a particularly contentious point in the last couple of years.

LTE networks operating in the unlicensed bands (LTE-U) was one of the biggest points of controversy during a pretty public spat between major mobile networking vendors – such as Qualcomm, involved heavily in this project – and the Wi-Fi Alliance, which saw LTE-U as a threat to its protocol and sought to get the FCC to put the brakes on any progress being made with LTE-U.

According to Huawei, the LAA-ready network was tested using a Huawei Lampsite base station in Turkey, at the Vodafone Turkey retail store within the football stadium home to Istanbul-based football team Beşiktaş. The test used 40 MHz of 5GHz unlicensed spectrum, and 15 MHz in 2.6 GHz to achieve three Carrier Aggregation. The result yielded mobile download speeds of 370 Mbps on a device using the Snapdragon 835 by Qualcomm.

“LAA technology will help Vodafone to improve the experience our customers have,” said Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone Group’s head of networks. “The LAA network fully reuses the existing core network, network management system and accounting system we use for 4G, and so will effectively improve our return on investment.”

This announcement follows the standard pre-Mobile World Congress pattern of every major vendor getting as many ‘world firsts’ as possible. Significant or not, it looks as though the objective is about making as much noise as possible. ‘We’re really, really busy, you HAVE to come see us at MWC!’ Good ploy.

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