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FCC gives Qualcomm LTE-U testing permission

hands using a phone texting on smartphone app messaging LTE

Qualcomm has received permission from the FCC to test LTE-U use-cases in partnership with T-Mobile.

Qualcomm has been one of the biggest advocates of LTE-U potential, despite staunch opposition from wifi proponents who worry about potential interference issues. LTE-U operates in the same frequency bands as wifi, around the 5GHz mark, and concerns over the possibility of coexistence continue to exist.

Last year there was an escalation in tensions as the Wi-Fi Alliance wrote to the FCC demanding authority over the approval process for LTE-U licensing, a request which fell on deaf ears. Verizon, T-Mobile, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Qualcomm all responded by claiming a dangerous precedent would be set if the standards body for one technology were to be given the right to impose limitations on another.  They also claimed the Wi-Fi Alliance ignored invitations for wifi/LTE-U coexistence testing and didn’t consult with any of them with regards to its own testing.

Tensions later cooled as the Wi-Fi Alliance hosted a coexistence test workshop in November to lay a pathway forward for both technologies. Qualcomm has since pressed forward with LTE-U, and the approval from the FCC will see the chipmaker trial real-world unlicensed spectrum in the United States. Approval has been given to Qualcomm to test in four locations across the country: North Las Vegas in Nevada, Richardson in Texas, Simi Valley in California and Bellevue in Washington which is home to T-Mobile’s US headquarters.

Qualcomm has until late October to conduct its tests in a variety of bands from 1700MHz to 5850MHz, and requires permission from a local Advanced Wireless Service licensee, such as T-Mobile, to ensure it avoids interference.


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