Wi-Fi Alliance Releases LTE-U Testing Plan

As advertised, the Wi-Fi Alliance has released its final plan for testing the co-existence of LTE-U and Wi-Fi.

The idea of the test is to show how the two technologies—the Wi-Fi cable broadband providers use for mobile connectivity and the LTE-U (U for "unlicensed") that cellular companies want to use to offer a similar service—can share unlicensed spectrum.

"Delivering a cross-industry coexistence testing solution was an unprecedented and difficult task, and the outcome will help ensure the billions of people who rely on Wi-Fi every day will continue to benefit from the same great user experience they have enjoyed for more than 15 years," said Ed Figueroa, president of Wi-Fi Alliance. "Wi-Fi connectivity underpins our daily lives, and Wi-Fi Alliance has an obligation to represent the needs of Wi-Fi users worldwide."

LTE backers have been somewhat at odds with the forces of cable Wi-Fi over opening up spectrum currently used by cable providers for their primary Wi-Fi play to telcos looking to create their own broadband hot spots via LTE-U.

Cable CTOs—including from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Cablevision—and computer company execs have told the FCC that they don't oppose LTE-U, but that it has so far "avoided the long-proven standards-setting process and would substantially degrade consumer Wi-Fi service across the country."

Those cable ops were sounding hopeful that testing will yield those needed protections.

“We applaud the Wi-Fi Alliance for developing a consensus-driven test plan that will ensure new LTE-U devices coexist fairly with the existing Wi-Fi networks and devices hundreds of millions of consumers already use and enjoy," said WifiForward, a group that includes NCTA: The Internet & Television Association. "Measuring LTE-U devices for fair coexistence under the test plan is also crucial to protecting the major financial investments made by organizational Wi-Fi users from schools, hospitals and libraries to cities, governments and small businesses. Only by requiring LTE-U equipment vendors to test all proposed devices according to the clear, consistent and comprehensive standards of the test plan can consumers have confidence that their Wi-Fi will continue to work as designed."

"Today the Wi-Fi Alliance released a plan for testing whether a LTE-U device shares fairly without disrupting consumers' Wi-Fi devices," said NCTA: The Internet & Television Association. "This test plan represents a year of hard work by the Wi-Fi Alliance and by a diverse group of industry stakeholders, all of whom made significant compromises to reach a final result based on sound engineering principles. Although the details of test plan execution at each lab remain important, NCTA urges the FCC to rely on test results that implement the Wi-Fi Alliance plan in its entirety in deciding whether to approve LTE-U devices."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.