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Verizon’s McAdam to FCC: LTE-U, WiFi Can Coexist Now

Verizon chairman Lowell McAdam met recently with Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler to assure him that the company is committed to peaceful coexistence with WiFi, a filing at the agency shows.

The telco has been part of a group -- which also includes T-Mobile and Qualcomm -- pushing for deployment of LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U), which would be mobile broadband's answer to the WiFi broadband hot spots that have become wired broadband's mobile play of choice.

In the meeting, according to an ex parte filing with the FCC, McAdam and other Verizon execs talked up their "strong commitment" to WiFi and said that they continued to collaborate with "to ensure that LTE-U coexists successfully with WiFi.

Verizon does not need the FCC's permission to deploy the technology, but will need the FCC to sign off on the new smart phones that will be needed to receive it.

Cable operators have told the FCC that, while they are not opposed to LTE-U, they are not convinced that it can be deployed without interfering with WiFi. (See: "A Summer Guide to the LTE-U Dustup.")

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association told the FCC last month WiFi stakeholders are working hard to find technical solutions to the interference issue, but says its research shows LTE-U can cause consumer disruptions and that more testing is needed.

In fact, it said that after joint work done by CableLabs and Qualcomm on the issue, "there is no basis for claims that LTE-U is proven to coexist well with WiFi."

Cable operators have Google and Microsoft on their side, at least in arguing that a standards-setting body needs to weigh in."

CableLabs and Google say they have done their own tests that show that LTE-U will "disrupt" consumer WiFi and that specs for the devices -- LTE-U will require new phones and tablets to access -- are insufficient to protect consumers.

Back in October, cable chief technology officers, joined by execs from Google and Microsoft, met with Wheeler to argue that before LTE-U technologies are employed in unlicensed spectrum bands, also used by cable WiFi hot spots, there must be rigorous standards to insure the technology does not impair WiFi.

Wheeler has signaled he wants the parties involved to work out their technological coexistence issues on their own if possible.