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Worries mount over upcoming LTE-U deployments hurting Wi-Fi

Jon Gold | Oct. 7, 2015
LTE-U is a technology developed by Qualcomm that lets a service provider broadcast and receive signals over unlicensed spectrum, which is usable by anybody – specifically, in this case, the spectrum used by Wi-Fi networks in both businesses and homes.

None of the involved parties are likely to welcome government oversight, so the preference all around is likely to be for an industry-led solution. Indeed, in the late 1980s, when the current unlicensed band regulations were being developed, nobody thought that the frequencies would ever be used for commercial purposes, according to Mathias.

“Right now, it’s a cautionary tale,” he said. “The assumption that many of us had made was that the LTE community would rely on handoff to Wi-Fi, rather than operating LTE in the unlicensed bands.”

Nevertheless, it’s a potentially serious issue – the increasingly central role of wireless technology to every facet of life in the developed world means that superficially dry and technical discussions about interference can gain real-life consequences in a big hurry.

“When you start looking at the mission-critical nature of Wi-Fi – all these Internet of Things applications that are coming along, many of which will have medical and security elements to them, plus just regular voice/data/video – you’ve got a problem,” Mathias warned. “So this is clearly something that multiple entities within industrialized economies are going to have to deal with.”


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