Qualcomm and SK Telecom trial LAA on steroids

Just because Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) is still very much a work in progress, that’s no reason not to try and pimp it up a bit regardless.

That seems to be the philosophy adopted by Qualcomm and SK Telecom in trialling ENHANCED LAA (eLAA) which, just to be clear is LAA, but enhanced. The need to demonstrate incremental progress towards 5G on a daily basis has required the creation of a bunch of prefixes and suffixes such as ‘advanced’, ‘pro’, ‘ultra’ and now ‘enhanced’.

The companies seem to be hedging their bets a bit, however, referring to their latest trial as LAA/eLAA, making this announcement seem like it was written by a Teletubby. The explanation for this needs to be reproduced in its entirety to be fully appreciated.

When evaluating coexistence, a baseline was first established using only Wi-Fi users, of which some were then switched from Wi-Fi to LAA/eLAA while others remained on Wi-Fi. The trial demonstrated that the users that remained on Wi-Fi were unaffected by those that switched to LAA/eLAA. This effectively demonstrates that LAA/eLAA shares the unlicensed spectrum fairly with Wi-Fi. The sharing mechanism used by LAA/eLAA is called listen-before-talk (LBT). As for performance, LAA and eLAA were shown in multiple test cases to achieve 2X capacity in 5 GHz than the Wi-Fi only baseline.

“This trial aims to demonstrate fair and harmonious coexistence of LAA with Wi-Fi in unlicensed spectrum,” said Eduardo Esteves, VP of product management at Qualcomm. “This is also a manifestation of Qualcomm Technologies’ and SK Telecom’s leadership in leveraging the latest technologies to improve user experience.”

“A flexible combination between licensed and unlicensed spectrum is necessary to enable high quality massive 5G service,” said Jin Hyo Park, head of network technology at SK Telecom. “We will lead the network innovation towards LTE-A Pro and 5G including combining licensed and unlicensed spectrum technologies such as eLAA and MPTCP.”

Nuff said.

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