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Ericsson wants to make more reliable 4G using WiFi networks

Ericsson has kicked CES off by showing off its new small cell network technology – which aims to deliver much faster 4G speeds with a little help from WiFi.

Since 4G became operational in the UK things have been a little bit smoother for the average smartphone user. Apps download quicker, you can stream movies and music rather than carting them around on your device and the sending and receiving of files is a cinch. Naturally, 4G isn’t perfect though – and unless you’re based in certain areas you might be used to the frustration of seeing your coverage drop off.

Ericsson aims to make that frustration a thing of the past though, with the introduction of its License Assisted Access (LAA) technology, which makes use of unused WiFi frequencies to boost 4G signal, giving users more speed in places which are typically high-demand, such as offices, bars, shops and other indoor areas in which a lot of people might congregate.

Here’s a video Ericsson put together outlining the benefits of LAA.

The tech, which will begin rolling out this year, basically scans WiFi networks and looks for unused channels; once it finds one that’s free it uses it to boost its own 4G network.

Think of your 4G connection as a road. It sometimes gets busy and you don’t move very far. LAA allows you to search for tracks (WiFi channels) running near to your ‘road’, which will afford you the option of moving quicker. If those tracks are busy, then your boost might not be that significant, but it’ll be better than nothing at all.

An example of a busy ‘track’ would be a big event, where the WiFi has a lot of users connected who are taxing it. In situations like that, LAA might only be able to offer you a small boost, 10-20Mbps here or there for example, but it could be as much as 150Mbps. On top of that, your device will still have its usual network connection to draw upon, so anything that LAA can add to the mix will be a bonus.

Smartphones and tablets capable of utilising LAA will begin rolling out this year and Ericsson confidently predicts that there will be a fair few to choose from come year’s end.

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