LTE-U interference concerns continue to fester

Sue Marek

It's no secret that wireless operators like Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) are closely monitoring the progress around LTE-Unlicensed technology because both are anxious to deploy the technology as a way to meet burgeoning capacity demands. But the technology is not without controversy.  

In particular, the Wi-Fi community continues to be concerned about possible interference from LTE-U and that has attracted the attention of the FCC. Industry players, like Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and T-Mobile US are opposed to the FCC making any attempts to regulate LTE-U and related technologies. In fact, at a recent CTIA-organized briefing, Qualcomm and T-Mobile officials argued that LTE-U can coexist happily with Wi-Fi and that opponents of the technology do not have compelling technical reasons for opposing it.

Meanwhile, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, speaking for many cable companies that have their own Wi-Fi networks, argues that Qualcomm has not made enough effort to collaborate with the unlicensed community, and that its proposals thus far on LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence are not fair or equitable.  

But proponents of LTE-U insist that the technology has spectrum-sensing capability that can identify open frequencies not occupied by other unlicensed users. They also say that LTE-U has "adaptive duty cycle" that allows it to take turns with other users.

This isn't the first time the wireless industry has battled over interference issues. LightSquared knows first-hand about how interference concerns can derail a company's business plans. After numerous years of litigation over the company's potential spectrum interference with GPS receivers, the firm last week finally announced that it is in settlement discussions with GPS device firm Trimble to try to resolve years of acrimony between the two sides.

It's unclear how long concerns over interference from LTE-Unlicensed will continue to fester and how successful the Wi-Fi community will be in derailing planned deployments, which are currently on track for late 2015 and early 2016.

Nevertheless, FierceWireless is delving into the LTE-Unlicensed debate. In this latest eBook on the topic, we delve into the pros and cons of deploying the technology. Download it here.--Sue