Qualcomm seeks STA to conduct LTE-U tests, including at T-Mobile facilities

Qualcomm Technologies (NASDAQ:QCOM) has applied for a special temporary authority (STA) with the FCC in order to conduct LTE-U experiments at four test sites in the AWS and 5 GHz bands for what it describes as "very small scale" product development testing.

As part of its application, Qualcomm said the purpose of the proposed testing is to evaluate the technical performance of pre-commercial LTE-U equipment, operating in a downlink-only mode in the UNII-1 and UNII-3 portions of the 5 GHz band, in a highly controlled field environment in order to assist in the ultimate development of commercial products. "The testing will benefit the public interest by enabling the pre-commercial testing of new products outside of a lab environment but in a controlled and managed manner," the company said.

The FCC last year issued a public notice seeking information on LTE-U and LAA after concerns were raised about how it might negatively impact Wi-Fi. Qualcomm has maintained that it is as concerned about Wi-Fi as anyone and doesn't think LTE-U will pose a risk to Wi-Fi.

In its STA application, Qualcomm said that since LTE-U was concieved, Qualcomm, T-Mobile and their partner companies have engaged in extensive technical collaboration with the Wi-Fi community. The companies intend to conduct separate and independent LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence testing in a real-world environment at a T-Mobile facility using a coexistence test plan being developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

"This test plan is a product of extensive technical collaboration between the Wi-Fi Alliance, T-Mobile, Qualcomm, and their partner companies and would be modified as appropriate based on the specific environment to be used for the testing," states the application. "The Wi-Fi Alliance would be invited to observe these tests. This Wi-Fi Alliance test plan will initially be used for joint coexistence testing to take place within a Wi-Fi Alliance certified lab."

The trial is just one of many for vendors and operators seeking to deploy LTE-U in unlicensed spectrum.

"We are working with various chipset, radio infrastructure and device partners on production trials, who have submitted applications with the FCC for field testing to determine LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence based on the Wi-Fi Alliance test plan," a T-Mobile spokesperson told FierceWirelessTech.

The FCC granted an STA to Qualcomm Technologies in January to conduct very small scale performance evaluation tests of LTE-U equipment at two Verizon (NYSE: VZ) sites in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Raleigh, N.C.

In its latest STA application, Qualcomm says its trial will consist of up to 10 small cells and access points. The mobile units to be used are receive-only in the 5 GHz spectrum but also include an LTE transmitter that operates on 3GPP Band 4. Up to 20 mobile stations will be used at each location for a total possible number of 80 LTE-U capable mobile devices.

The devices are prototypes that have not completed formal equipment authorization, and equipment from multiple equipment manufacturers will be used in the evaluation testing, the application states. The intent is to operate the evaluation devices, both small cells and mobile units, 24 hours per day, seven days a week during the experiment.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is in the midst of developing a coexistence test plan and hopes to have it ready by this summer.

The 5 GHz experiment that Qualcomm is proposing would start April 20 and continue through Oct. 20. It wants to conduct tests in Bellevue, Wash., as well as Simi Valley, Calif.; Richardson, Texas; and North Las Vegas, Nev. Qualcomm states that it is working with partner companies to develop equipment that will use multiple technologies, including 802.11 and LTE, in unlicensed 5 GHz bands.  

For more:
- see this filing

Related articles:
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Qualcomm gets permission to test LTE-U at two Verizon sites
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Wi-Fi Alliance: Work on LTE-U testing regime ongoing, but it's unclear when it will be finished