AT&T wants to put LTE-U, LAA through coexistence paces

AT&T
Image: Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

AT&T is asking the FCC for permission to modify a license so it can test equipment provided by the likes of Ericsson and Nokia that complies with the LTE-U and LTE-LAA specifications.

The experimentation is expected to report as to how well the LTE-U/LTE-LAA and Wi-Fi can coexist under the test conditions and provide a measure of performance of the LTE-U/LTE-LAA system, according to the application. AT&T expects the results will pave the way for utilization and/or improvement of the LTE-U/LTE-LAA specifications.

The testing is set to take place in Austin, Texas, using various frequencies.

“We are planning to install two Smallcell eNodeB base stations inside a building in Austin with mobile handset units being tested in and around that building,” the application stated. “The eNodeB base stations will be operating on the LTE band 4 (B4) as well as the UNII-1 and UNII-3 bands. The base station antennas could be directional but the testing would point the antennas in 0 to 360 degrees in horizontal plane and -5 to -10 degrees in vertical plane.”

The document also listed Blinq and Taqua as providing equipment for the tests. Taqua, a supplier of mobile and fixed IP convergence systems and services, acquired voice over Wi-Fi solutions provider Kineto Wireless in 2014. Blinq is known for providing small cell backhaul gear.

AT&T rivals Verizon and T-Mobile US have been more vocal about wanting to use LTE-U equipment, which sparked controversy among the cable and Wi-Fi community in part because it was not developed through the usual standards process. Wi-Fi enthusiasts worry it will crowd out or overpower Wi-Fi and make for a poorer quality of experience for Wi-Fi users.

Executives at AT&T, which also owns a lot of Wi-Fi gear, have said they think LAA may be the better option over LTE-U but they wanted to test LTE-U as well, noting that it would be upgradeable to the LAA standard. LAA is expected to take longer than LTE-U to get to the stage where it’s commercially deployable.

The Wi-Fi coexistence testing process that’s being developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance has drawn the ire of some, namely Qualcomm and Verizon. Earlier this month, Verizon executives told the FCC that the current draft plan is not an “extraordinary compromise” as some in the cable industry suggested. In fact, Verizon said, the current plan is “fundamentally unfair and biased.” Qualcomm also expressed its frustration, saying the plan lacks technical merit and is fundamentally biased against LTE-U.

For its part, the Wi-Fi Alliance has said it is confident that the test plan it delivers in September will meet the objectives that were set at the beginning of the effort.

For more:
- see this application and this exhibit (PDF)

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