Unlicensed LTE (uLTE) has been put under the spotlight since it was proposed by Qualcomm in November 2013. The uLTE solution uses the radio carrier aggregation of LTE-Advanced to allow licensed radio spectrum technologies to aggregate carriers that operate in unlicensed bands. From a technical perspective, the solution is elegant in its simplicity. However, uLTE needs more than technical elegance for mass market success and depends on a variety of factors including support by the 3GPP, equipment vendors and service providers.

Since it is still in its infancy, most industry players are adopting a “wait and see” approach to the efficacy of uLTE, while others are using it to rekindle the age-old battleground between licensed and unlicensed radio spectrum technologies. While this battleground has seen both sides aggressively defend their territories with elaborate technical dissertations, the insurgence of unlicensed Wi-Fi into the licensed spectrum world is a clear indication of…

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