Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>

Michael Finneran | February 23, 2017 |


FCC Gives the Green Light to LTE-U: Move Over Wi-Fi

FCC Gives the Green Light to LTE-U: Move Over Wi-Fi This is indeed a big, if somewhat ironic, win for the mobile operators.

This is indeed a big, if somewhat ironic, win for the mobile operators.

In his first major move since assuming the chairmanship of the FCC, Ajit Pai announced the agency's first authorization for the use of LTE-U (LTE-Unlicensed) devices operating in the 5-GHz unlicensed band. Both Verizon and T-Mobile plan to launch LTE-U capabilities this spring, The Wall Street Journal reports.

I've written on the subject of LTE-U before, in particular, its potential impact on other users of the unlicensed 5-GHz band, which would include enterprise Wi-Fi networks using 802.11n and 802.11ac. While 802.11n could operate in either the 2.4-GHz or 5-GHz bands, 802.11ac is designed for 5 GHz only. Given the power limits on 5-GHz transmissions and the signal loss at those frequencies, LTE-U will be a small cell technology exclusively, augmenting the carriers' macro networks in areas of heavy usage.

Wi-Fi & LTE-U Communities Come Together
When the idea of LTE-U first surfaced, it developed into something of a shoving match between the mobile operators and the Wi-Fi industry. On the mobile operator side, the first group to coalesce was Evolve, fronted by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson ... you get the picture. However, it focused on cooperation and coexistence, noting in its principles, "New technologies using unlicensed spectrum need to work cooperatively with Wi-Fi today, tomorrow and into the future."

A second group called the MulteFire Alliance with many of the same members has also stepped into the fray and is developing a specification for an LTE-based technology for small cells operating solely in unlicensed spectrum. The 3GPP, the group that develops standards for the cellular industry, has also weighed in on the use of unlicensed spectrum.

Fronting the battle for the Wi-Fi side has been the Wi-Fi Alliance, with support from Google and a number of cable operators, many of whom have built extensive public Wi-Fi networks for their customers. While the relationship appeared to be somewhat rocky at the outset, the Wi-Fi and LTE-U communities eventually came together, and in September of last year, the Wi-Fi Alliance released a Coexistence Test Plan to "help ensure LTE-U devices can demonstrate they share unlicensed spectrum fairly and will serve as a valuable tool for vendors and service providers seeking to improve how their deployments coexist with Wi-Fi networks.

In a statement released today, Kevin Robinson, VP of Marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance said, "[The] Wi-Fi Alliance is encouraged to see LTE-U device vendors following through on their commitments to test devices against the Coexistence Test Plan through qualified independent test laboratories to demonstrate their LTE-U products share spectrum fairly. The successful application of the Coexistence Test plan validates the significant investments made by both the Wi-Fi and LTE-U communities."

While Wi-Fi and LTE-U will "coexist," the actual impact on private Wi-Fi networks remains to be seen. The coexistence strategies depend on Wi-Fi and LTE-U devices potentially taking turns using the same channel, which would most certainly have an impact on Wi-Fi network throughput. However, that channel sharing would be a last resort as the LTE devices would look to the carrier's licensed channels first, then unused 5-GHz Channels, and finally shared channels.

This is indeed a big, if somewhat ironic, win for the mobile operators. Big, in that the carriers now have access to hundreds of megahertz of unlicensed spectrum they don't have to pay for. Ironic, as the mobile operators had formerly looked disparagingly on unlicensed spectrum and touted the benefits of owning licensed spectrum that was guaranteed to be free of interference.

However, mobile data traffic continues to grow, and in this highly competitive market, Verizon and AT&T have now reintroduced "unlimited" data plans. Unlimited is in quotes because there are always limits in one way or another, generally in the form of speed reductions once a defined usage threshold has been passed.

People love the communication, information access, and entertainment options mobile networks can provide, and they seemingly can't get enough of it. One of my favorite tenets for network traffic has always been, "Traffic always expands to fill the available capacity - and three times faster than you thought it could!" With mobile operators now creeping into the unlicensed spectrum, I just wonder where they will go looking when we hit the next capacity crunch.

Learn more about mobility trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2017, March 27 to 30, in Orlando, Fla. Michael Finneran will be exploring this topic further in the session, "Mobility 2020: Where the Mobile Enterprise Is Headed," which is part of our one-day program on the future of communications and collaboration. View the Mobility track, and register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.

Follow Michael Finneran on Twitter and Google+!
Michael Finneran on Google+


September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice depl

August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.