Thursday February 23, 2017

FCC Approves LTE-U Wireless, Rolls out on T-Mobile This Spring

Those of you who have read about LTE-U in the past are probably aware of the controversy surrounding the technology and its potential for undermining Wi-Fi in the 5GHz band, as LTE-U will encroach upon and likely congest that very space. Proponents like Qualcomm claim that both can co-exist with little issue, but the last time I checked, increased traffic does not help performance. We will see who was right in a few months.

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The FCC has given several companies the go-ahead to activate a wireless technology called LTE-U in their base stations; if all goes as planned, devices will be able to communicate cellular data over unlicensed frequencies technically overlapping with those of Wi-Fi. The basic idea behind LTE-U (and related techniques called License Assisted Access and MuLTEfire) is that some frequencies in the 5 GHz band used by Wi-Fi routers were going unused. Carriers and device makers had proposed allowing these unlicensed bits of spectrum to augment existing base stations’ signals, potentially improving short-range connection speeds.