Wi-Fi backers warn about unlicensed LTE while Ericsson claims speed boost

The Wi-Fi Alliance plans collaboration to make sure Wi-Fi users don't get squeezed out

The Wi-Fi Alliance warned that LTE on unlicensed frequencies could interfere with Wi-Fi and said it plans to collaborate with the 3GPP cellular standards group to help prevent that.

Mobile operators are starting to explore the use of the unlicensed 5GHz band for LTE even though many Wi-Fi networks rely on those frequencies. On Tuesday, Ericsson announced it's testing unlicensed LTE with Qualcomm and that SK Telecom, T-Mobile USA and Verizon are interested in the technology.

Most countries set aside large portions of the 5GHz band for use without a license, and Wi-Fi has become a major user of that spectrum. Mobile operators are allowed to use the band even though they have their own licensed frequencies, but LTE wasn't developed to coexist with other networks in that kind of environment.

The 3GPP is developing protections for other users of the spectrum under the banner of LAA, or License-Assisted Access. However, LAA is part of an update to the LTE standard that's not due to be finished until the end of this year. That worries the Wi-Fi Alliance.

"There is a risk that LAA, and especially pre-standard systems deployed ahead of coexistence work being done in the industry, will negatively impact billions of Wi-Fi users who rely on 5GHz today for networking and device connectivity," the Alliance said in a statement on Monday.

The Wi-Fi and LTE industries have to work together on a fair way to share the band, the Alliance said. It plans to collaborate with the 3GPP and with anyone planning a pre-standard deployment to help make sure Wi-Fi users aren't hurt.

Meanwhile, Ericsson said it's running live tests of LAA in its labs in conjunction with Qualcomm, which demonstrated the technology last month at International CES. The tests at Ericsson Labs in Sweden and Canada showed LTE networks getting a speed boost of as much as 450Mbps (bits per second) by combining licensed and unlicensed frequencies, Ericsson said. That was achieved with commonly used amounts of spectrum: 20MHz in a licensed band and 40MHz in unlicensed.

The technology they tested also enables fair sharing of spectrum between LTE and Wi-Fi, Ericsson said.

In a press release, three major mobile carriers voiced varying degrees of interest in the Ericsson-Qualcomm tests. South Korean SK Telecom said it achieved the trial with Ericsson and Qualcomm and would continue to work with them on advanced technologies. T-Mobile, which has said it plans a trial deployment later this year, and Verizon also called the tests encouraging.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags EricssontelecommunicationNetworkingSK TelecomwirelessWi-Fi AlliancequalcommWLANs / Wi-FiT-Mobile USAVerizon Wireless4g

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?