What is AWS?

You hear a lot about LTE. Everyone loves LTE. But occasionally, you hear a little bit about AWS. It’s almost always an afterthought… it seems that LTE has captured the public’s imagination but AWS doesn’t seem to rate more than a footnote.

LTE, as you know, is the current standard for data and some voice on cellular carriers. It was intended to be the one, unifying standard for cell companies for the future (LTE stands for Long Term Evolution of the GSM standard) but it does look like it will be replaced by 5G in the next three years. LTE functions on frequencies near to the regular frequencies for voice.

While LTE networking is all the rage, both T-Mobile and Verizon use the AWS bands as well. AWS, the Advanced Wireless Services, are a pair of wireless bands somewhat higher than regular voice bands. One advantage of AWS is that it uses a different set of frequencies for sending than those used for receiving. Most devices receive far more data than they send and that can create bottlenecks when the same radio frequencies are used for both sending and receiving.

AWS is not a technology. LTE technologies are used on the AWS bands, and since those frequencies are wide open, the result is usually faster speeds. Of course, since those frequencies opened up in 2013, they’ve been getting steadily more congested, and things are expected to continue getting worse until the next group of frequencies at 600MHz are opened up as part of the FCC’s reverse auction process. This will be in the next three years.