In a written submission describing a meeting with FCC officials, T-Mobile US urged the FCC to maintain a “technology- neutral approach” to usage of unlicensed spectrum bands. The carrier also voiced its “strong commitment to ensuring that Wi-Fi remains robust and is not adversely impacted” by the proposed deployment of LTE-U technology in unlicensed bands that support Wi-Fi. T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are looking toward LTE-U as a means of delivering improved connectivity to subscribers and relieving network congestion through the offloading of data traffic onto unlicensed bands currently used by Wi-Fi networks. Both carriers are expected to start LTE-U technology trials next year.
A modified version of the fourth-generation wireless standard that routes voice and data traffic through cellular networks, LTE-U checks for open channels, but may send cellular network traffic onto the least congested available channel. Julius Knapp, head of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, has questioned backers regarding LTE-U’s ability to transmit on an occupied channel.
Although cable companies and other Wi-Fi network operators warn that LTE-U has the potential to interfere with unlicensed Wi-Fi users, T-Mobile told the FCC last Thursday that “claims by LTE-U opponents . . . that the technology will adversely impact Wi-Fi operations are based on testing with parameters set at extremes that do not represent realistic deployments or do not reflect actual LTE-U specifications.” Maintaining that “LTE-U has less of an impact on Wi-Fi operations than would occur by adding an additional Wi-Fi access point,” T-Mobile further explained: “if multiple operations deploy LTE-U in an area, the access points treat each other as another user and take those operations into account just as they would additional Wi-Fi access points.” As such, T-Mobile argued there is no reason for the FCC to “deviate” from its current technology-neutral approach to use of the unlicensed bands, as “LTE-U meets all Part 15 requirements and includes strong coexistence mechanisms.”
A spokesman for AT&T, which operates an extensive network of Wi-Fi hotspots but has not announced LTE-U deployment plans, remarked that his company is “supportive of LTE use of unlicensed bands as long as it can properly coexist with Wi- Fi.” At the same time, an official of Qualcomm, which is working alongside Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung in a forum to develop global standards for usage of LTE-U technology, stressed: “we are going way, way, way beyond what anyone could require in rules to make sure [LTE-U] will work well.”