BARCELONA – U.S. wireless carrier AT&T is pushing toward the launch of four carrier aggregation in the second half of this year, including some configurations that utilize unlicensed spectrum via License Assisted Access (LAA).
AT&T Vice President of RAN and Device Design Gordon Mansfield on Thursday told Wireless Week the carrier is eyeing deployment of four carrier aggregation in the early second part of the year. The advancement will be made via a software upgrade to the carrier’s network, he said, and is part of the carrier’s push toward gigabit speeds.
“With the spectrum positions that the operators have in the U.S., you’ve got to bring together some unlicensed spectrum as well (to hit gigabit speeds),” Mansfield said. “You can get close, you can get up to several hundred with just the macro network and the licensed spectrum, but the way you get to a gigabit is you use licensed spectrum with 4×4 MIMO and 256-QAM and you bring in LAA with unlicensed carriers. And in that case it will actually be 4CA.”
According to Mansfield, four carrier aggregation will be used in conjunction with technologies like 256-QAM and 4×4 MIMO to help reach 1 Gbps or more on the network.
In areas where the carrier has a densely built network with small cells, Mansfield said four carrier aggregation with LAA will be used. But in the macro network, he said, four carrier aggregation will be on licensed bands.
While devices today currently only support one of the three aforementioned technologies at a time, Mansfield indicated devices are headed down the pipe as soon as in the second quarter that will have baseband modems capable of supporting all simultaneously. Mansfield declined to name the vendors who are planning such releases.
Mansfield specified, though, that some capabilities will be available on the device right out of the box. Others, like LAA, will be added via an over the air software update pushed out over the network later in the year, he said.