One of the highlights of #WFD 8 day one for me was the session by Dave Wright on the current status of the many options for including LTE in the unlicensed space.
Competing options abound for the carriers are lusting after the ‘free’ unlicensed spectrum. This is like showing gourmet food to a starving man… sure – carriers are in no wise like a starving man – they have loads of our money – and want to keep up the metered, pay per usage, model that has resulted in them being able to pay Billions – yes, Billions with a ‘B’ for their various spectrum slices. Compared with those costs, you can see why their business development teams are salivating over all this ‘free’ unlicensed spectrum.
But there is the rub – how can they use their LTE technology – which by default does not support the Wi-Fi technique of ‘Listen Before Talk’ – when they in turn are using a deterministic technology. These two competing techniques are at odds with each other.
The first up is LTE-U – a US-based system that wants to control much of the unlicensed 5GHz spectrum for their own uses. You can check out what they have to say here:
The problem with LTE-U (one of many in my book) – is that it does not support LBT. This need for LBT has been outlined by ETSI in this paper on their ‘BRAN’ initiative. You might want to spend a couple of minutes reviewing this pdf document:
A couple more links to other Dave Wright posts:
This situation is far from clear, and still quite up in the air as to where/what/when we might see resolution. I fear the carriers will NOT stop until they have as much unlicensed spectrum as possible. One light in a very dark cloud is the FCC’s move toward 3.5GHz – perhaps this might appease the carriers for a period of time.
Please take the time to watch this session on the Wireless Tech Field Day sight and leave comments about how you see this entire mess resolving – or drop a line on Twitter, I’m at @KeithRParsons.
Here’s the live stream – enjoy!