FCC

FCC Lets Qualcomm Test LTE-U With T-Mobile

Already has green light for testing potential WiFi competitor with Verizon 5/06/2016 12:45 PM Eastern Last updated at 5/06/2016 2:06 PM

The FCC has granted Qualcomm additional authority to test LTE-U with T-Mobile. It had already gotten an STA (special temporary authority) to test the technology with Verizon.

 

Qualcomm is trying to establish that LTE and cable WiFi can coexist, something cable operators have argued needs more verifying before trusting.

 

The new authority is for 24/7 tests in Washington, California, Texas and Nevada.

 

Qualcomm is testing LTE in the 5 GHz band now used by cable ops for WiFi. Qualcomm told the FCC it would "continue to work with the Wi-Fi community to ensure successful coexistence."

 

"Qualcomm is very pleased that the FCC granted our request and will continue to work with the FCC and other stakeholders to ensure LTE-U will fairly coexist with Wi-Fi," said Dean Brenner, SVP of government affairs. "We will also continue to collaborate with the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop a coexistence test plan, and utilize that plan for joint lab and field testing."

 

The FCC approval is not a big surprise. The commission is all about encouraging deployment of next-generation wireless service.

 

The FCC in January approved the testing with Verizon.

 

LTE backers, like CTIA members Verizon and Qualcomm, have been at odds with the forces of cable WiFi over opening up spectrum currently used by cable providers for their primary WiFi play to telcos looking to create their own broadband hot spots via LTE-U (U for "unlicensed").

 

[For a primer from "Translation Please" columnist Leslie Ellis on cable's issues with LTE-U, see "A Summer Guide to LTE-U Dustup."]

 

Cable chief technology officers, joined by execs from Google and Microsoft, have told FCC chairman Tom Wheeler that before LTE-U technologies are employed in unlicensed (the "U" in LTE-U) spectrum bands, also used by cable Wi-Fi hot spots, there must be rigorous standards to insure the technology does not impair WiFi.

 

Cable operators have argued that standards first need to be in place to prevent the new technology from interfering with existing WiFi, currently their major mobile broadband play, while wireless companies insist  that the two can co-exist, and LTE-U and LAA, which is a licensed-spectrum assisted version, should roll out ASAP.

 

The cable CTOs, including from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Cablevision, and the computer company execs have told Wheeler and his aides that they don't oppose LTE-U, but that it has so far "avoided the long-proven standards-setting process and would substantially degrade consumer Wi-Fi service across the country."

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