Operator reaches 370 Mbps by aggregating licensed, unlicensed spectrum.

Vodafone Turkey and its suppliers Huawei and Qualcomm claimed on Wednesday to have deployed the world’s first licence assisted access (LAA)-ready LTE network.

Incorporated into 3GPP Release 13 (R13), LAA aggregates LTE carriers operating in licensed spectrum with those operating in unlicensed spectrum, increasing the overall capacity in the access network. To ensure coexistence with other unlicensed spectrum users, such as WiFi, R13 supports listen before talk (LBT).

Vodafone’s LAA-ready network has been rolled out at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, home of Besiktas football club. It aggregates 40 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band with two, 15-MHz carriers in the 2.6 GHz band.

A terminal equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 LTE modem achieved a peak speed of 370 Mbps. Smartphones that support LAA are expected to go on sale later this year.

"LAA technology will help Vodafone to improve the experience our customers have. 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," said Santiago Tenorio, head of networks at Vodafone.

"Use of the unlicensed spectrum will become an increasingly important part of technology strategy as we move towards Gigabit LTE and 5G, and we have shown that LAA can deliver on those promises today," added Enrico Salvatori, president of Qualcomm EMEA.

On-site tests of Vodafone’s LAA network also revealed that the spectral efficiency of LAA is greater than WiFi when using the same 40 MHz of 5-GHz spectrum.

"Faced with the large amount of unlicensed spectrum resources which are not fully used, Huawei and industry partners are using LAA technology to extend the LTE system to [the] unlicensed band," said Ryan Ding, president of Huawei products and solutions.