WiFi Alliance Releases LTE-U Testing Plan

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

The idea of the test is to show how the two technologies -- the WiFi cable broadband providers use to provide 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 WiFi 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 the Alliance. "WiFi connectivity underpins our daily lives, and WiFi Alliance has an obligation to represent the needs of WiFi users worldwide."

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

Cable CTOs, including those from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter and Cablevision, as well as 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 WiFi service across the country."

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

“We applaud the WiFi Alliance for developing a consensus-driven test plan that will ensure new LTE-U devices coexist fairly with the existing WiFi networks and devices hundreds of millions of consumers already use and enjoy," said WiFi Forward, a group that includes the 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 WiFi 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-will continue to work as designed."

John Eggerton

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.