Mobile industry forms pressure group focused on unlicensed spectrum

A new coalition of associations and mobile technology companies has formed in a bid to build a better mobile and wireless world out of the unlicensed spectrum.

Prompted by recent debates in the US regarding potential conflicts between the use of unlicensed spectrum for mobile and existing Wi-Fi use, Evolve is to hold a series of speaking engagements, meet with policymakers and educate consumers in a bid to promote the potential benefits of unlicensed spectrum and its associated technologies.

According to Evolve, technologies such as LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) will substantially increase data speeds and improve coverage for millions of Americans. However the ground needs to be prepared before industry can deliver those benefits, it says.

Founding members include Competitive Carriers Association, wireless association CTIA, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Qualcomm, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The Evolve coalition believes regulators should reject calls to pre-emptively interfere with new technologies like LTE-U and LAA, because these can help make better use of unlicensed spectrum.

The movement wants to raise awareness of the potential uses for unlicensed spectrum by 5G, which is currently being cannibalised by device makers ranging from baby monitor makers to garage door openers using Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth. Soon, Evolve warns, mobile telcos will lose their chance to reserve LTE-U and LAA for their exclusive use.

The total value of unlicensed spectrum is over $228 billion per year in the United States (according to telecom advisory service LLC) while the value of the devices that currently use it for baby monitors, wireless headsets and walkie-talkies, has a GDP of just $6.7 billion per year.

In response the new Evolve member companies are now campaigning for seven principles of unlicensed spectrum management. These include encouraging innovation, limiting the use of the spectrum and making better use of the potential for the Internet of Things. If unlicensed spectrum is not used to its fullest potential, there will be a multi billion dollar opportunity cost, warned Evolve member Dean Brenner, Senior VP of Government Affairs at chipmaker Qualcomm.

“Americans need better broadband, and they need it now,” said Brenner, “the Internet is entering a new phase of growth, making it necessary to increase mobile broadband capacity a thousand times. We are working tirelessly to develop more efficient wireless technologies with LTE and Wi-Fi coexisting together to bring consumers the best possible mobile broadband experience. Policymakers should embrace this approach.”

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