Carriers are constantly on the hunt for more 4G spectrum, but the airwaves they need may be right under their noses. Mobile network builder Ericsson has developed a new technology that allows carriers to add Wi-Fi spectrum to their LTE networks, boosting overall capacity and the raw speeds available to our smartphones, tablets and mobile hotspots.
The technology is called License Assisted Access (LAA) and it’s been worked on by wireless networking companies across the mobile industry, but at CES on Monday Ericsson said it has a version of its small cell in the pipeline that takes advantage of LAA. A small cell is basically a big tower-mounted cell in miniature, and they’re used to surgically insert more capacity the network. By adding LAA to small cells, carriers would be able to amp up data speeds to their customers in the most high-demand places, particularly indoors where most mobile data is consumed.