Samsung trying to stay neutral in LTE-U fight

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LAS VEGAS—Even though Samsung was one of the early vendors to collaborate on LTE-U, it’s now taking more of a neutral stance on the technology, letting operators take the lead on the controversial deployment that uses unlicensed spectrum.

While Samsung has developed LTE-U small cells that are in trial with operators, Samsung is also the largest Wi-Fi purchaser in the world, said Alok Shah, VP of strategy for BD and marketing, in an interview with FierceWirelessTech at CTIA Super Mobility 2016.

“We put Wi-Fi into more products than anyone,” he said. “We’re clearly sort of a neutral party in this debate. We want to see coexistence, we want to see nothing that affects the Wi-Fi experience for consumers. We’re watching the ongoing discussions between WFA and other groups to try to get to a resolution … It’s really a question of how the FCC will move.”

LAA, which is being developed through 3GPP, is creeping up on LTE-U, which initially was expected to be available far sooner than LAA. Some analysts believe LTE-U still has a time to market advantage because getting standards finalized through the standards bodies is such a long and arduous process.

“A lot of times this is less of a technology choice and more of a commercialization choice,” said Charlie Zhang, VP of the Standards and Mobility Innovation Lab at Samsung Research America, in an interview. “I think both technologies will work and can work, it can coexist with Wi-Fi, from a technology perspective, I believe in that.”

As for when operators choose to deploy, it’s their decision to deploy, whether it’s LAA or LTE-U, he said.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has said it expects to deliver a coexistence test plan on Sept. 21, when it will be released to the public. Before that, some outstanding work items still needed to get hammered out: The draft plan as presented previously drew criticism from the likes of Qualcomm, which said it lacked technical merit, and Verizon, which last month called the plan fundamentally unfair and biased.

One of the tenets from the very beginning of the work between LTE-U and Wi-Fi revolved around determining whether an LTE network impacts a Wi-Fi network any more than a Wi-Fi network impacts another Wi-Fi network.

Last year, Qualcomm and CableLabs came to different conclusions when they conducted tests of coexistence between LTE-U and Wi-Fi.

The cable industry has been particularly skeptical of the so-called advantages that LTE-U can bring in unlicensed spectrum, and it has repeatedly pointed out the closed nature of how it was developed in the LTE-U Forum.

Related articles:
Wi-Fi Alliance on track to release LTE-U coexistence test plan by Sept. 21
Wi-Fi Alliance: August target for coexistence test plan with LTE-U could slip into September
Broadcom: LTE-U as currently contemplated would be a 'disaster' for Wi-Fi