Wi-Fi Alliance reaches for peace over unlicensed LTE

Co-existence between the two could improve users' mobile experiences

A Wi-Fi Alliance workshop next month could start to lay the groundwork for peace between Wi-Fi and LTE promoters who have been arguing over potential interference.

If LTE and Wi-Fi can operate peacefully in unlicensed spectrum, mobile users should be able to get a better experience in in crowded areas whether they are using their carrier's service or a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The group will bring together representatives of both sides and lay out proposed guidelines for coexistence between Wi-Fi and LTE on unlicensed frequencies. The workshop, on Nov. 4 in Palo Alto, California, will be the first of several such meetings, the Alliance says.

The goal is to have every unlicensed LTE product tested on its ability to coexist with Wi-Fi. Those tests might be administered by the Wi-Fi Alliance or by another body, said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Alliance. 

Wi-Fi backers, including Google, cable operators and the Wi-Fi Alliance, have been up in arms over emerging technologies that would let LTE networks use unlicensed frequencies. These radio bands are open to any system that meets some basic requirements for minimizing interference, but Wi-Fi proponents say the way LTE works could cause wireless LANs to get squeezed out. 

Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, SK Telecom and other mobile operators want to deploy so-called unlicensed LTE and offer their subscribers devices that can use the system. That could help carriers deliver better service to more subscribers. But they are up against the massive Wi-Fi industry, which argues that unlicensed LTE could hurt the performance of any wireless LAN that uses the crucial 5GHz band, including consumers' home networks. 

The Wi-Fi Alliance formed a Coexistence Task Group which has drafted guidelines for determining whether an LTE device can live peacefully with Wi-Fi. Most of the major companies associated with unlicensed LTE participated in the group, Figueroa said. 

Those guidelines will be presented at the November workshop along with testing and simulation work that's been going on at the Alliance. Unlicensed LTE proponents, including Qualcomm, Verizon, Ericsson and Samsung, will also make presentations, Figueroa said. 

If mobile device and network makers can agree on tests of whether an LTE product can coexist with Wi-Fi, a path could be cleared for the new breed of cellular gear all over the world. The guidelines worked out in the Alliance don't say anything about how unlicensed LTE devices achieve coexistence, so they could be used for all different versions of the technology tailored to local regulations.

Operators in the U.S., South Korea and some other countries are pursuing a variant called LTE-U (LTE-Unlicensed), while those in Europe are working on LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), with special features to prevent interference. Qualcomm is also developing MuLTEfire, which doesn't have to be anchored to a licensed network. 

Instead of specific solutions, the guidelines are based on key performance indicators for things like throughput, latency and jitter. An LTE product could be certified for coexistence if it didn't send nearby Wi-Fi networks below those performance levels. 

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is looking into the debate over Wi-Fi and unlicensed LTE, but Figueroa said the Wi-Fi Alliance wants to keep the unlicensed ecosystem the way it is so innovation can continue. 

"An environment with minimal regulation has served us well for over 30 years," he said. "We believe the industry can address coexistence."

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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?