The statement continues: "The current LTE-U specification does not require products to include adequate fair sharing etiquette protocols. The extent to which LTE-U shares spectrum with other technologies can vary widely from one vendor to the next, as was discussed at an LTE-U Forum workshop in May. Furthermore, there is already a growing amount of research, such as that published by Google and CableLabs (here and here) indicating that Wi-Fi networks will be negatively impacted by the current version of LTE-U technology. The risk to users who depend on Wi-Fi every day for their connectivity needs is too great."
In Wednesday's press briefing, Qualcomm executives mounted a strong defense of LTE-U, backed up by Verizon executives who flew in for the occasion.
In addition to its technical merits, LTE-U adheres to the spirit of why the FCC set aside unlicensed spectrum, said Dean Brenner, Qualcomm senior vice president of government affairs.
"The watchword for unlicensed spectrum is permission-less innovation," Brenner said. "The whole point is you don't have to go to a government regulator and ask to be able to use it."
He added, "The FCC is doing its job. They're asking questions. They're finding out about the technology. We have no problem with that. What we're doing here is 100% in keeping with the FCC's model."
Qualcomm has a vested interest in ensuring LTE-U and WiFi work together well, Brenner noted. It has its own WiFi business it needs to protect. "Every year there are hundreds of millions of WiFi chips sold around the world with our WiFi solution in them," he said. "The absolute last thing Qualcomm will do is anything that will impair or make an adverse future for WiFi. There is a long, bright future ahead for WiFi."
Users are hungry to exceed the existing limits of WiFi, Brenner said. These users include stadium owners whose customers have difficulty getting sufficient wireless access, and colleges where students are facing online traffic jams on campus.
Qualcomm supports three different flavors of LTE-U: One version targets mobile deployments in the US, Korea, India and other areas. The second option, with Licensed Assistance Access (LAA), targets Europe, Japan and beyond.
Both of those options require "anchoring licensed spectrum" -- meaning they operate initially in licensed spectrum and then move on to unlicensed for an additional bandwidth boost.
A third option developed by Qualcomm, MuLTEfire, requires no licensed spectrum; it's designed for indoor use and deployments by enterprises, cable companies and other service providers without ownership of expensive bandwidth licenses. (See Qualcomm Aims MuLTEfire at Unlicensed Bands.)
Qualcomm anticipates LTE-U, LAA, MuLTEfire and WiFi will all coexist, sharing bandwidth for a long time. Together, they'll help service providers achieve 1,000 times the bandwidth available today, to meet the demands of video and other emerging technologies, said Rasmus Hellberg, Qualcomm senior director of technical marketing.
Exceeding regulatory requirements
Qualcomm executives also argued that LTE-U provides double the capacity and range of WiFi, and common management with conventional LTE.
Engineers have worked to exceed regulatory requirements for LTE-U. "From our perspective as design engineers, the regulation is the absolute minimum. No regulation is sufficient to ensure WiFi and LTE-U coexist well together," Mingxi Fan, Qualcomm VP of engineering and corporate R&D, said.
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