A Return to Permission-Less Innovation

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 22, 2016 at 2:41 pm

The latest chapter of the Wi-Fi vs. LTE-U saga unfolded this month as the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) announced that, after many months, it was finally closing in on an approved LTE-U coexistence test plan but surprised everyone by suggesting that the test plan should also include LTE-LAA. To understand why this is so aggravating, we need to take a little trip in the not-so-way-back machine.

A year ago, when the whole LTE-U brouhaha erupted, the Wi-Fi proponents advanced two primary complaints.

First, the Wi-Fi proponents argued that LTE-U had not been standardized, but instead was an un-scrutinized proprietary technology. It was further argued that the unlicensed community always worked together cooperatively and that the LTE-U proponents had somehow violated that unwritten code.

As a preliminary matter, that’s simply not the case. There are many unlicensed devices that are not particularly cooperative with Wi-Fi. One report estimates that 76% of the interference into home Wi-Fi systems comes from baby monitors, microwaves and cordless phones; and no one manufacturing those devices had to seek permission from the WFA to proceed or submit to WFA co-existence testing. I would also note that LTE-U relies on LTE Releases standardized in 3GPP.

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Smart Grid Finds a
Home in WCS Band

Posted by: Joan Marsh on March 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

Yesterday, AT&T filed a petition outlining an innovative new smart grid solution for the unpaired Wireless Communications Service (WCS) C and D blocks.  Those steeped in the long history of the WCS band know that the technical restrictions needed to protect adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) and Aeronautical Mobile Telemetry (AMT) users severely constrain use of the WCS blocks.  Notwithstanding these challenges, AT&T remains on pace to deploy mobile and fixed broadband services to satisfy the FCC’s performance requirements for the paired WCS A and B Blocks.  Finding a noninterfering use for the C and D Blocks, however, has proven more daunting, even with the cooperation of our spectrum neighbors.

But last year, AT&T partnered with Nokia to design and develop a private, highly secure, high-capacity LTE network solution for smart grids – and related smart cities applications – using the C and D Block spectrum.  The proposed smart grid deployment will require no change to the technical rules governing the spectrum and – according to initial testing – will coexist well with adjacent SDARS and AMT uses.  AT&T and Nokia recently began to present this solution to utilities companies across the country and the proposal has garnered significant interest and the support of UTC.

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TOPICS: FCC, LTE, Spectrum
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