An Update on LTE-U and Wi-Fi

WifiForward’s vision is an unlicensed spectrum ecosystem that works for American consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole. We all depend on technologies like Wi-Fi to get online, to run our businesses and to move our communities forward. So, WifiForward supports any efforts to prevent consumers from encountering harmful interference or losing access to Wi-Fi altogether, as a result of a deployment of LTE-U in its current form.

Today, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) issued a public update on its steps toward developing a collaborative testing methodology to ensure consumers of Wi-Fi are free from harmful interference. Unlicensed spectrum advocates and LTE-U supporters share this goal: establishing acceptable coexistence mechanisms that address the millions of Wi-Fi users across the country and preserve the permissionless innovative nature of the unlicensed bands. Today’s release is an important first step towards that goal.

But: this current test iteration remains only a draft and is far from a complete coexistence test plan.

A lot of important technical work remains to be done. For example, the WFA draft testing plan does not yet include measures by which LTE-U equipment could be deemed to pass or fail. And engineers must still jointly decide on a range of real-world testing scenarios. Today’s release shows that we are making progress, and unlicensed advocates — including WifiForward — hope this rigor will continue and ultimately be reflected in the final plan.

The WFA is continuing to work with engineers to develop an industry agreement about a number of important and unresolved technical questions related to the way to test LTE-U co-existence. This is hard work — undoubtedly, it is made even more challenging because the technical questions are being examined outside of a traditional standards-setting process.

Given the numerous concerns about LTE-U interfering with Wi-Fi and other unlicensed spectrum technologies that have been raised by public interest groups, tech companies and communications providers alike, it is critical that the industry continue to work collaboratively on a complete test plan for LTE-U co-existence among other unlicensed technologies.

Please read this letter to Wi-Fi Alliance President & CEO Edgar Figueroa from some WifiForward members who are also members of the Wi-Fi Alliance for more.