Zain to use Wifi spectrum to speed up 4G LTE

Nokia will help Saudi telecom operator Zain to use unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band — often used for Wifi — to increase download speeds of 4G LTE.

“Following the trial, the Nokia technology will be deployed in hotspots, for example, in malls and cafes in Jeddah and around the Holy Mosque in Makkah,” Nokia said in a statement.

The project to develop the use of LTE-U in the Kingdom marks an important step for Zain to offer a superior subscriber experience using unlicensed spectrum, it said.

The two conducted the first such trials in the Middle East, and were able to achieve download speeds of up to 223 Mbps.

It should, however, be noted that using a specific channel or frequency of Wifi spectrum to deliver 4G signals does lead to interference.

In most cases, Wifi modems are configured to avoid any frequency or channel which is in use, but sometimes, they are configured to use a particular channel without checking if it is in use or not.

In such cases, and in cases where the Wifi band is congested due to the presence of several networks, the signals of the Wifi router and the 4G network will clash, resulting in poor performance for both.

However, Nokia is targeting the technology — called LTE-U (U for Unlicensed) in controlled environments, such as malls and halls.

It is also not clear whether existing handsets will work with the technology.