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LTE-U supporters launch new coalition

The companies who are bringing LTE-Unlicensed to the industry have added new partners and launched a new coalition to promote the technology, seeking to reassure both regulators and Wi-Fi stakeholders that running LTE in unlicensed spectrum will not impact Wi-Fi.

Founding members of the Evolve coalition include wireless trade organizations CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Qualcomm, T-Mobile US and Verizon Communications. As Dean Brenner, SVP of government affairs for Qualcomm, noted during a call with the press on Monday morning, some of the companies coming together to support LTE-U compete with each other and/or typically do not agree on issues of public policy. T-Mobile US had already joined Verizon in support for LTE-U – or at least, did not want the technology stymied by a Wi-Fi Alliance request to the Federal Communications Commission that the government agancy stall LTE-U deployments until further testing could be conducted on co-existence.

The LTE-U Forum, founded by Verizon last year, continues to be the technical body of record, which is being developed outside of the typical standards bodies 3GPP or IEEE. The LTE-U Forum includes Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm and Samsung, and the companies put together a series of technical documents on the technology and its workability with Wi-Fi. The documents available on the site include a coexistence study as well as minimum requirements for both user equipment and base stations for LTE-U. License-assisted access is the flavor of LTE-over-unlicensed that is currently being worked on by 3GPP and requires a listen-before-talk mechanism for coexistence. LTE-U relies on duty cycling, or short on/off periods, to share space with Wi-Fi. More on RCR Wireless News’ reporting on LTE-U basics are available here, and a look into test results of LTE-U that have been submitted to the FCC are available here and here. Evolve said that it is supporting both LTE-U and LAA.

The major concern about LTE-U sharing 5 GHz spectrum with Wi-Fi has been to what extent LTE will play fairly with Wi-Fi. Evolve has formed both to emphasize the innovation that goes on in the unlicensed space – and make sure that LTE-U and LAA aren’t hindered any more than other technologies – while also presenting a united front in support of the technology and sending the message that the companies involved have no interest in handicapping Wi-Fi. Several Evolve representatives on the call Monday emphasized that their companies are heavily invested in Wi-Fi and would be harming themselves if they implemented LTE-U that interfered with their customers’ ability to access Wi-Fi.

“There will be no harm to Wi-Fi,” said Brenner. He noted that LTE-U and LAA, both meet the basic parameters required by the government in order to be launched in unlicensed spectrum.

“We’ve looked at the technology very carefully, and we want to make sure and ensure that there is no negative impact on Wi-Fi – but we’re very excited about the innovation that comes along with LTE-U,” said Steve Sharkey, director and chief of engineering and technology policy at T-Mobile US.

Evolve set forward seven founding principles as it launched, including that “permission-less innovation” in unlicensed spectrum should be encouraged, particularly as the “Internet of Things” continues to evolve; that new, unlicensed frequencies should be freed up by the government; and that Wi-Fi is a “critical component of wireless networks” and “new technologies using unlicensed spectrum need to work cooperatively with Wi-Fi today, tomorrow and into the future. Likewise, current-generation technologies must accommodate new innovative technologies that also operate in unlicensed spectrum.”

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