CableLabs on LTE-U test process: 'This is not something you want to rush'

BOSTON -- A top executive from CableLabs said that the Wi-Fi Alliance's efforts to create a testing process for LTE-U technology is not moving too slowly, as executives from T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) have argued.

"I disagree," Belal Hamzeh, director of network technologies at CableLabs and head of the company's wireless efforts, said in response to questions about whether the LTE-U process is moving too slowly. "This is going at quite a faster pace compared with [similar projects] at the 3GPP."

"This is not something you want to rush through," Hamzeh added. "This [LTE-U testing process] has an impact on every person [who uses Wi-Fi]."

Concluded Hamzeh: "It's not a trivial thing" to test whether LTE-U technology will interfere with Wi-Fi technology.

Hamzeh's comments, made here on the sidelines of the cable industry's INTX trade show, come amid concerns by T-Mobile and Qualcomm that the Wi-Fi Alliance is moving too slowly in its efforts to create a plan and process to test whether LTE-U technology will interfere with Wi-Fi technology in unlicensed bands. That testing process would represent a step toward commercial deployment of LTE-U technology by answering whether the technology in fact does interfere with Wi-Fi, as some companies have asserted.

Just last month the Wi-Fi Alliance hosted a Coexistence Test Workshop where attendees representing a cross-section of Wi-Fi, cable and wireless industries presented their contributions in order to move the process forward.

"Qualcomm believes that the Wi-Fi Alliance's timeline for finalizing the test plan needs to be greatly accelerated," Dean Brenner, SVP, Government Affairs at Qualcomm, said in a statement provided to FierceWirelessTech following the event.

"We're frustrated," agreed T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray during the operator's recent quarterly conference call with analysts. "We're not seeing the progress that we would like to see. We still have an ambition to push solutions into the marketplace inside 2016 but based on, from where we are from a regulatory perspective at this point in time... the light is dimming there a little." 

Indeed, Qualcomm and T-Mobile just this month received FCC permission to continue LTE-U product development testing at several locations, including where T-Mobile is based in Bellevue, Washington.

Qualcomm has been leading the charge for LTE-U. "Qualcomm continues to prove fair coexistence between LTE-U and Wi-Fi through our own testing, through third-parties and through our work with other stakeholders within the LTE and Wi-Fi industries," Brenner said.

The LTE-U Forum was formed in 2014 by Verizon in cooperation with Alcatel-Lucent, which is now part of Nokia, as well as Ericsson, Qualcomm and Samsung. LTE-U is one of several technologies designed to transmit LTE signals into unlicensed spectrum, though it is the technology that has raised the most concerns among members of the Wi-Fi community.

Related articles:
Qualcomm gets green light to test LTE-U with T-Mobile
LTE-U coexistence moves along but not fast enough for some stakeholders
Qualcomm seeks STA to conduct LTE-U tests, including at T-Mobile facilities
Wi-Fi Alliance says goal is to deliver LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence test plan by summer

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