What is LTE License Assisted Access (LAA)?

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Editorial Team - everything RF

Nov 23, 2017


License Assisted Access (LAA) is a feature of LTE that leverages the unlicensed 5 GHz band in combination with licensed spectrum to deliver a performance boost for mobile device users. It uses carrier aggregation in the downlink to combine LTE in unlicensed 5 GHz band with LTE in the licensed band to provide better data rates and a better user experience.

Since this technology operates in the 5 GHz band where Wi-Fi operates, it must be able to co-exist with Wi-Fi by avoiding channels that are being used by Wi-Fi users. LAA uses a concept called Listen-before-talk (LBT) which dynamically selects channels in the 5 GHz band which are not being used by Wi-Fi users. If there is no clear channel available, LAA will share a channel fairly with others.

Advantages of LTE-LAA Technology

  • Consumers can leverage the combination of licensed and unlicensed bands to achieve higher peak rates indoor and outdoor.
  • By distributing traffic between the licensed and unlicensed bands, LAA frees up capacity on the licensed spectrum, benefiting users on those bands.
  • LAA frees up capacity for Wi-Fi users, by employing fair sharing techniques and using the 5GHz band more efficiently.
  • LAA Enables mobile operators to offer Gigabit Class LTE by using small chunks of licensed spectrum.

Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) was introduced in the 3GPP release 13 as part of LTE Advanced Pro. LAA gives a performance boost to smartphone users, while optimizing available wireless network resources for all users. Combining licensed and unlicensed technologies is a key milestone towards the road to 5G.