Major carrier T-Mobile and network giant Ericsson have teamed up for a special lab test using 12-layer License Assisted Access technology to reach mobile data speeds around 1.1 gigabits per second on a commercial LTE network. The test took place in T-Mobile's own test lab in Bellevue, Washington. LAA technology was used across 12 layers, including spectrum licensed from three carriers, and unlicensed spectrum normally used by two carriers. The test took 12-layer LAA technology and laid it atop T-Mobile's existing highest-end LTE technology, consisting of 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and three-channel carrier aggregation, along with the basic LTE technologies.
The test utilized the Ericsson Radio 2205 on the receiving end to make use of unlicensed LTE in tandem with licensed spectrum, rather than parallel to it. This allowed combination of connections, resulting in a wider band, so to speak, and thus higher total throughput. Previous tests of LAA on LTE had gotten speeds up to a gigabit per second through the use of 10 layers, or different sources of spectrum, but adding in unlicensed providers brought that number up to 12, allowing the test to break the gigabit barrier. This test was able to go beyond gigabit speeds on an existing commercial network with no special temporary backhaul equipment. Still, it's worth noting that this was a test in a lab environment and used special equipment from Cobham Wireless.
While the test was run on T-Mobile's existing LTE network, customers experience the network using conventional equipment like smartphones and tablets, and with much more congestion. In the press release about the test, T-Mobile says that rolling out this technology will not push customers above the gigabit mark quite yet, but it will give near-gigabit speeds to a wider swath of its customer base, and improve the connection's capacity and stability. Many markets in T-Mobile's purview are still awaiting full deployment of the LTE technologies that the test was based upon, and recreating the unlicensed spectrum use that led to these results was made possible by the Ericsson Radio 2205. Presumably, that radio or a technological equivalent would have to be available in consumer devices for consumers to use unlicensed spectrum in the same way it was used in the test. This likely means that customers have a decent time to wait before they can see the benefits of the technologies in today's test, even in T-Mobile's prime markets.