June 18, 2015 — Verizon told the FCC it plans to deploy unlicensed LTE (LTE-U) where bandwidth demand outstrips licensed spectrum capacity, namely in the 5-GHz band, according to comments filed at the agency last week. And it will look at other bands in the future, such as 3.5 GHz.
“In these areas, Verizon will deploy LTE-U on low-power small cells. Customers served by LTE-U will enjoy all the advantages of ‘standard’ LTE, including fast download speeds and seamless coverage when moving between cells,” Verizon wrote.
While wireless carriers remain loyal to Wi-Fi technology, the consensus of them went on the record supporting LTE-U and License Assisted Access (LAA), or at least opposing FCC regulation of the technologies.
T-Mobile, which was the first carrier to promote Wi-Fi calling, wrote, “Consistent with the FCC’s own philosophy, carriers should be allowed to use an ‘all of the above’ approach for such network capacity expansion and management.”
Carriers assured the FCC that wireless industry standards being developed for LTE-U and LAA would suffice for interference abatement. Because of the success of Wi-Fi and the carriers’ dependence on it, the wireless industry would have no impetus to deploy unlicensed LTE that would harm existing unlicensed technology.
“Verizon also has a particular interest in ensuring that new uses of unlicensed spectrum do not degrade existing unlicensed operations, because it has put Wi-Fi into hundreds of millions of its smartphones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and FiOS routers,” Verizon wrote. “Unlicensed spectrum has been such a tremendous success because operators have voluntarily developed sharing mechanisms that respect one another’s legitimate uses of spectrum.”
Because Verizon will deploy LTE-U in the 5-GHz band, where Wi-Fi and other important unlicensed technologies are present, the carrier will design the network to avoid harming other unlicensed operations.
“Verizon’s equipment will comply with all Commission rules for operations in the 5-GHz band, including technical specifications that limit the size of LTE-U cells in the same way they limit the sizes of Wi-Fi hotspots” Verizon wrote.
Unlicensed technology that uses LTE protocols will provide additional capacity in areas where carriers have licensed LTE spectrum, according to AT&T, providing a cost-effective and spectrally efficient way to help address wireless data demand.