Verizon Communications and T-Mobile are preparing to broadcast cellular signals over unlicensed Wi-Fi bands next year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The carriers are planning to make use of LTE-U carrier aggregation to augment their use of licensed spectrum.
Last month, I reported that a group of U.S. Senators had expressed concern that the rollout of LTE-U will interfere with Wi-Fi. Now, Thomas Gryta and Ryan Knutson in the Journal report that startups like Republic Wireless as well as companies like Google and Cablevision Systems are expressing concerns.
Republic Wireless offers inexpensive cell-phone service that runs mainly on Wi-Fi, falling back on cellular networks when Wi-Fi is not available. Gryta and Knutson quote David Morken, co-founder and chief executive of Republic Wireless, as saying of the carriers, “It is in their best interest, and importantly perhaps strategic long-term interest, to marginalize Wi-Fi as much as possible as an alternative open, creative ecosystem.”
They also quote Harold Feld, senior vice president at consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge, as saying LTE-U could let the carriers strangle Wi-Fi, adding, “You don’t have to kill it to make a really potent weapon against the competing services.”
As for the carriers, Gryta and Knutson quote Patrick Welsh, director of federal government affairs at Verizon, as saying, “Wi-Fi is very important to us because it’s very important to our customers. Every test that we’ve done shows that LTE-U is as good of a neighbor to Wi-Fi as Wi-Fi is to itself.”
In related news, Keysight Technologies announced in May enhancements to the E7515A UXM wireless test set to address LTE-A carrier-aggregation (CA) test requirements, including support for LTE-U with up to three unlicensed carriers.