US carriers will look to LTE-U tests to protect Wi-Fi

Verizon and T-Mobile expect to deploy LTE-U gear that has passed a Wi-Fi Alliance test suite

The biggest U.S. carriers planning to deploy controversial LTE-Unlicensed technology expect to use gear that’s been tested for coexistence with Wi-Fi, their executives said Wednesday.

Speakers from Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA said they expect all the LTE-U devices they use to be vetted through a test plan created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. They also anticipate that gear based on a related technology, LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), will be certified through tests for that system.

That’s good news for anyone worried about LTE networks using some of the same frequencies that carry Wi-Fi traffic. The WFA test plan, despite being developed with input from those carriers and other LTE-U backers, was harshly criticized before its completion last week. Backers of LTE-U, including Verizon and Qualcomm, have demonstrated their own coexistence tests. When it released the plan, WFA warned that anything but the full test suite would be inadequate to ensure that LTE-U devices would be fair to Wi-Fi.

LTE-U promises to boost LTE performance in some areas, but some Wi-Fi providers and users are worried their experience might suffer. The WFA tests, which will be conducted by an independent lab, are designed to gauge whether an LTE-U device turned on near a Wi-Fi network would cause more interference than adding another Wi-Fi network.

The carriers, along with mobile technology giant Qualcomm and others, have criticized WFA’s test development process as too slow and unfair to LTE-U. At a panel discussion on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., conflict was never far from the surface, but executives for the two carriers voiced support for the test plan.

"I think Wi-Fi Alliance did a good job of coming up with a product here," said Steve Sharkey, T-Mobile’s vice president for engineering and technology policy.

Verizon is still reviewing the test plan, said Patrick Welsh, assistant vice president for regulatory affairs, but it expects that any gear it deploys will have passed. Verizon still expects to introduce LTE-U this year and LAA next year, he said.

The panel brought together voices from both sides of the debate, including Wi-Fi chip giant Broadcom and Comcast, which competes with carriers and has a vast Wi-Fi network to give its customers mobile access. David Don, Comcast’s vice president for regulatory policy, said the carriers were out of bounds when they developed LTE-U because they didn’t do it transparently. "Hopefully, we’ve moved beyond some of these practices," he said.

The Federal Communications Commission held off on approving LTE-U products until the industry could come up with its own solution. That "light touch" may be a model for how regulators will handle a growing number of unlicensed spectrum issues, said Harold Feld, senior vice president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

"It’s a very crowded world, and we are adjusting our expectations for how these things are going to work together," Feld said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?