T-Mobile concerned that LTE-U rollout could be delayed due to Wi-Fi coexistence debates

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We know that T-Mobile is interested in LTE-U, as it wants to help Qualcomm test the technology later this year, but T-Mo has concerns that it could be a while before it’s actually able to make LTE-U available to consumers.

Steve Sharkey, T-Mobile VP of Government Affairs, Technology, and Engineering Policy, recently told FierceWirelessTech that the government could end up causing a delay in offering LTE-U devices and services. He explains that most of the technical work on LTE-U is done, but that there are still concerns that the tech will affect current Wi-Fi products, and so the regulatory approval of LTE-U products has been repeatedly delayed. This could cause LTE-U rollouts to be pushed back, as the LTE-U devices would need to be okayed by the FCC before they’re launched.

T-Mobile wants to use LTE-U to add capacity to its network by broadcasting its signal in unlicensed bands, but some folks are concerned that cause interference with existing Wi-Fi networks and their users. That’s a valid concern considering the widespread use of Wi-Fi, but companies like Ericsson and T-Mo seem to feel that those concerns are really starting to affect their LTE-U rollout plans. Ericsson says that a final LTE-U test plan was slated to be finished in January 2016, then April, and now it may not be done until mid-August. The Wi-Fi Alliance recently said that it intends to have an LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence test plan developed by summer 2016.

For now, it looks like LTE-U rollouts are stuck in limbo as the technology and its effect (or lack thereof) on existing Wi-Fi users is debated by regulators and companies.

Source: FierceWirelessTech

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  • VN

    Maybe for them this is a cheaper and more convenient solution than Carrier Aggregation and densification.

    • Joe

      I hope that is not the case and doubt it is since unlicensed frequencies are high frequency’s and it would only be useful in buildings. So LTE-U would be used in malls and stadiums and Carrier Aggregation would be used over the entire network where it makes scene.

      • VN

        I see what you mean, hopefully it will help ease the congested B12 inside buildings and thus help the entire B12 tower area. But I still feel like they’re slow and quiet when it comes to Carrier Aggregation.

        • Rob

          Slow and quiet is an understatement. I’ve seen it a handful of times and I’m in a market that has 2, 4, and 12 for LTE options.

        • Yeah. They haven’t turned it on yet. AT&T has along with Sprint. VZW is just trucking along with thier same old slow network.

      • Fabian Cortez

        This is not a replacement nor a competing solution to carrier aggregation and/or densification.

  • Rob

    Interference seems like a real possibility and I’d be pissed if my AC connection got the same type of interference I get from all the N around here. The Comcast gateway can’t pump out more than 3-4Mbps on N usually while my standalone Trendnet AC1750 does 178 down and 24 up on my 150/20 connection. Even when I’m downstairs I still get over 100 down on it.

  • Fabian Cortez

    Alex Wagner, just an FYI: that’s FierceWirelessTech, not FierceWireless.

  • Matt

    This is a legitimate concern because many small businesses use campus WiFi or even long range WiFi to connect locations. A disruption in this could prove a big hinderance.

    • Clifton K. Morris

      Indeed. 2.4GHz bands as well as 5.6GHz bands are often used for backhaul on a full FCC-allowed (generally 1.0 watt) basis.

      I had an in-person conversation with Julius Knapp about this last October and expressed concern about how FCC never engaged his team on interference related to SiriusXM and T-Mobile 700MHz guard band use in NYC.

      The resulting response from the FCC (throwing out the case) was way too fast for the FCC to perform an adequate drive-test, and collect data using engineering-level equipment like that from PCTEL or Anritsu.

      Most likely, and perhaps T-Mobile got “one more ask” when Kathleen Ham sent some additional lobbyists to Washington DC to get that formal request thrown out. Perhaps Kathleen Ham sent cupcakes.

  • mikeZo6

    LTE-U Tmo should not be allowed to use at all, no carrier should be able to use unlicensed wifi.