September 28, 2016-Representatives of Verizon Communications, Inc., and T-Mobile US, Inc., said today that their companies will ensure that any LTE-U or licensed assisted access (LAA) devices they deploy will undergo the respective testing standards developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance and 3GPP. During an event this afternoon organized by the New America Foundation, the carrier reps were asked whether their companies would ensure that vendors they use abide by a Wi-Fi/LTE-U coexistence test plan released last week by the Wi-Fi Alliance (Sept. 21) and testing procedures approved by 3GPP for LAA technology.
“Verizon is still reviewing the Wi-Fi Alliance test plan. There were significant changes made … at the end. But we anticipate that all LTE-U equipment would undergo that testing and pass before it’s deployed,” replied Patrick Welsh, assistant vice president-federal regulatory affairs for Verizon. “And the same would go for LAA. We anticipate that all LAA devices will fully comply with [LTE] Release 13 of 3GPP.”
Steve Sharkey, vice president-government affairs for T-Mobile, said, “To the extent coexistence has been questioned, we want to make sure that those devices do coexist and live up to what we expect them to do, so the test plan is an important part of that and, you know, we expect devices will demonstrate that they coexist fairly, whether the LTE-U or … LAA, which would comply with Release 13. … We are not deploying equipment that doesn’t comply with standards.”
LTE-U and Wi-Fi proponents said during the event that they were pleased that the Wi-Fi Alliance test plan has been finalized, although there were renewed complaints about some of its details.
Kevin Robinson, VP-marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance, said that the alliance “delivered a test plan on an incredibly aggressive timeline” that was about half the period typical of a certification program. LTE-U advocates often complained that the process to prepare the test plan took too long. “Compromises were made by every side,” he added. “Not everybody gets everything they want. … We now have a final test plan that really does represent the best possible outcome that industry could have reached given the situation we were in. Is it perfect? No.”
Mr. Robinson also said the plan includes diverse scenarios and that the alliance does not want regulatory intervention.
But Chris Szymanski, director-product marketing & global government affairs for Broadcom Corp., a Wi-Fi chip maker, said “there were use cases that weren’t identified.” …“There were a variety of compromises, and I can tell you that Broadcom was not happy with several of the compromises,” he said. “However, we do think it is a good plan … taken as a whole.” He stressed that all testing should be handled by third-party labs certified by the alliance to ensure the “integrity of the plan.”
Mr. Welsh, who said Verizon plans to deploy LTE-U this year and LAA next year, complained that the plan would have LTE-U protect Wi-Fi 100 times more than Wi-Fi will protect LTE-U.
David Don, VP-regulatory policy for Comcast Corp., cited the history that led up to the preparation of the test plan and said, “We are generally satisfied with the way the process worked.” He added, “We’re optimistic now going forward that we have a solution to ensure that Wi-Fi and new technologies coexist.”
Mr. Sharkey stressed that Wi-Fi is “an integral part of our service … and it’s important for us to maintain that.” He said that “whether or not this was the right process or not,” T-Mobile is “very happy to have a coexistence plan in place moving forward.”
Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, noted that the thorny problem of how different users share spectrum is before the FCC now in several other proceedings. “This is not a unique problem,” he said. He praised the FCC in the Wi-Fi/LTE-U case for helping “set the framework for this type of self-policing.” The FCC should “clearly delineate its authority” when it comes to sharing of part 15 spectrum, he added.
The FCC should support the test plan, Mr. Don said. “It would be shame if the FCC walked away from it,” he said.
Mr. Szymanski said that it’s important to make sure that the plan works as developed. “Things like this can go off the rail in either direction,” he said.
Josh Breitbart, senior adviser-broadband to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D.), expressed concern that interference from LTE-U operations could hinder public access to Wi-Fi in his city. He said the city has the “most ambitious Wi-Fi project in the world right now.” “We’ll be watching closely” as LTE-U is deployed, he said. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org