Despite protests by LTE-U proponents who say they don't want the Wi-Fi Alliance dictating how their equipment gets certified, the Wi-Fi Alliance said it wants to make sure any LTE-U equipment that gets deployed will play fair with Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is developing a set of coexistence guidelines that it plans to publish within the next few weeks, identifying some key performance indicators for coexistence. The guidelines will form the basis of a set of tests that it also is developing and plans to make publicly available.
Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Alliance, stressed that the Wi-Fi Alliance is intent on finding solutions within the industry on its own, rather than having the FCC get involved. The alliance has set Nov. 4 for a full-day workshop on Wi-Fi and LTE-U coexistence. Proponents of LTE-U are invited to attend the event in Palo Alto, Calif. Information about the alliance's guidelines and testing activities will be presented. The guidelines and testing may evolve based on input from industry stakeholders, he said.
The LTE-U supporters blasted the Wi-Fi Alliance back in August when it announced its Co-Existence Evaluation Program. At the time, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Ericsson and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) told the FCC that allowing an organization that certifies interoperability for one particular technology "to become the gatekeeper" for another technology in unlicensed spectrum would jeopardize the commission's entire framework that has made unlicensed spectrum so successful.
Those companies continue to lobby the FCC, saying that LTE-U is based on 3GPP's current standards of Release 10/11/12 of LTE and fully complies with the FCC's Part 15 regulations. They say LTE-U's etiquette protocols enable LTE-U to share spectrum fairly with Wi-Fi and other unlicensed users and that extensive testing of LTE-U shows it will operate in the 5 GHz band without causing harmful interference.
AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon and T-Mobile are among the participants in Evolve, a coalition formed to promote the benefits of technologies like LTE-U and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), the version that is being developed in the standards group 3GPP. The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), Alcatel-Lucent and Qualcomm also are members of the group, which contrasts with the WiFiForward organization, which includes Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Broadcom and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) as members.
Figueroa told FierceWirelessTech that the question remains how the world at large ensures spectrum is shared fairly and the proper etiquette is in place so that services like Wi-Fi are not impaired when LTE-U is introduced into the picture. The Wi-Fi Alliance has a legacy of testing. "We feel like we have a lot to contribute, not just by virtue of our testing know-how but also by virtue of the diversity represented in the Wi-Fi Alliance," he said.
"What's unique with LTE-U is we recognize that we're evolving into an era where the Wi-Fi industry and Wi-Fi Alliance is in need of collaboration and engagement with other industries, in this case LTE-U," he said. "For that reason, we remain open toward our approach toward certification or any other approach that's suitable that brings us to the goal of ensuring proper coexistence, so if some other test approach makes more sense in this instance, we're open to that and we're interested in it."
One vendor's test results can't be extrapolated to represent all vendors' implementations of LTE-U. "We're not testing the technology, we're testing whether it coexists, whether it's fair," he said. The first version of the guidelines will be presented at the workshop and the expectation is the discussion about guidelines and testing will continue. "This is an important first step," he said.
Both the Wi-Fi Alliance and LTE-U communities agree on one thing: They don't want the FCC coming in with more regulation. Wi-Fi is a prime example of how minimal regulation leads to innovation, Figueroa said. "We're doing our part to try to avoid any additional regulation in unlicensed," he said. "That's our goal. Toward that end, we're hoping to engage with LTE-U stakeholders so industry can solve this problem on its own."
The workshop likely will be the first in a series but no other dates have been set.
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