LAS VEGAS -- Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is working with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and may be considering deploying LTE-U in that band. According to Ricky Corker, president of North America and EVP of Nokia Networks, the company is seeing interest in deploying LTE-U in the 3.5 GHz band from non-traditional players like Google. However, Google denies it is working with Nokia specifically on LTE-U.
Corker didn't provide any details on Google's possible deployment of LTE-U; however, in a fourth-quarter 2014 earnings call, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said that the company is pleased to be working with Google on the possibilities of opening up the ecosystem around 3.5 GHz spectrum for mobile broadband in the United States. "Given our expertise in 3.5 GHz technologies and our approach to small cells, we believe there is great opportunity to be had using a shared access approach," Suri said.
Google's work with Nokia is notable given Google has registered concerns about LTE-U in the FCC's proceeding on LTE-U. In its filing, Google has emphasized that LTE operators must work with other users of unlicensed bands to overcome technical issues and ensure that license-anchored systems will not "systematically crowd out" popular technologies that rely solely on unlicensed spectrum.
Google isn't alone, however, in eyeing the 3.5 GHz band. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) also is looking at the 3.5 GHz band for the deployment of Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology. The company has told the FCC that LAA is compatible with Wi-Fi and should be considered as the FCC adopts rules for the 3.5 GHz band.
T-Mobile announced during Mobile World Congress 2015 that it was planning to use LTE in the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum. Trials are expected to begin this year using LTE-U.
In April the FCC agreed to adopt new spectrum-sharing tools and policies to make 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band available for mobile broadband and other commercial uses.
The new spectrum-sharing techniques include a three-tiered approach spanning 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz, for a service dubbed the "Citizens Broadband Radio Service." The FCC says use of advanced spectrum sharing technology will allow wireless broadband systems to share spectrum with military radars and other incumbent systems while protecting federal missions.
Google has been an advocate for shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. The company earlier this month demonstrated a version of Spectrum Access System (SAS) that it built, which includes software running on Google infrastructure that is capable of dynamically managing the relationships among three proposed tiers of users at 3.5 GHz: federal and nonfederal incumbents, Priority Access licensees and General Authorized Access licensees.
- see this 4Q 2014 transcript of Nokia's earnings call
Google touts Spectrum Access System for 3.5 GHz spectrum management
FCC votes to adopt new 3.5 GHz spectrum sharing plan for 'Innovation Band'
AT&T, Google and others pick apart FCC's 3.5 GHz spectrum-sharing scheme
Google worries about warehousing in 3.5 GHz band
T-Mobile makes case for LAA in 3.5 GHz band
Google, Nokia and Federated Wireless execs see momentum behind 3.5 GHz ecosystem, uses
Verizon, Qualcomm and Ericsson partner on field trials of 3.5 GHz spectrum sharing
Update: This article and headline were updated on Sept. 15 to reflect that Google denies it is working with Nokia specifically on LTE-U. The company did confirm it is working with Nokia in the 3.5 GHz spectrum.