Mobile technology company Qualcomm on Friday received authorization to conduct small-scale field tests of LTE-U technology at select Verizon sites in Oklahoma City, Okla. and Raleigh N.C., the FCC said.
According to a Special Temporary Authorization form, the tests will be conducted on fixed and mobile devices within a one-mile radius of the stations. The authorization indicates that the tests will be conducted on the 1.85-1.91 GHz, 1.93-1.99 GHz, 5.15-5.25 GHz, 5.725-5.85 GHz frequencies.
In its application for authorization, Qualcomm said goal of the testing is to “evaluate the technical performance of pre-commercial LTE-U equipment, operating in downlink-only mode” to assist in the development of commercial products.
The coming trial will include up to 30 small cells and access points, as well as up to 14 prototype mobile devices in Raleigh and up to 28 in Oklahoma, the application said. Qualcomm said the prototypes are receive-only devices that operate in the 5GHz spectrum, but also include a transmitter that operates on 3GPP Band 2.
Qualcomm said it is aiming to maintain operation of both the small cells and mobile prototypes 24 hours per day, seven days per week during testing.
Equipment from multiple manufacturers will be used in the testing, Qualcomm said.
The special authorization from the FCC is in effect for testing through the end of June. Should any interference occur during testing, Qualcomm said it has the ability to shut down all transmissions operating under the authorization.
Results of the testing will be shared with the commission, the FCC said.
“Qualcomm is very pleased that the FCC granted our request for Special Temporary Authority, which will enable LTE-U product development testing to proceed,” Qualcomm’s senior vice president of government affairs Dean Brenner said in a statement. “We are collaborating with the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop a coexistence test plan, and we anticipate using that plan for joint lab and field tests to validate that LTE-U will not have any adverse impact on Wi-Fi.”
“Along with the other proponents of LTE-U, we have a substantial vested interest in Wi-Fi,” Brenner continued. “That’s why we are collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure that LTE-U and Wi-Fi coexist successfully.”
According to a letter sent to the FCC on January 22, the special authorization was granted with the blessing of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
“Wi-Fi Alliance recognizes and appreciates Qualcomm’s continued engagement in the critical work that Wi-Fi Alliance is conducting on Wi-Fi/LTE-U coexistence,” Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa wrote. “Wi-Fi Alliance remains hopeful that before the Commission approves the routine use of LTE-U products, the Commission will evaluate the results of testing in real world scenarios to demonstrate that LTE-U devices can coexist fairly with other Part 15 products.”
In announcing the testing, FCC’s chief of the Office of Engineering Technology Julius Knapp said the step was an important one for unlicensed spectrum.
“The success of the unlicensed bands as laboratories of innovation is largely the result of industry-driven coordination and, while significant steps remain before LTE-U can be considered for commercial deployment, we believe that this development is an encouraging step in continuing that success,” Knapp wrote.
Knapp said future LTE-U device experiments will require their own special authorizations, and LTE-U devices will require equipment authorization from the FCC before they can be marketed in the United States. Applicants seeking the certification of such devices will be required to submit a sample device for testing, he said.
On Friday, unlicensed spectrum advocacy coalition WiFiFoward responded to the authorization positively, but expressed its desire for close oversight of the project.
“Given the significant concerns raised by many stakeholders regarding harm LTE-U will cause to broadband connections over Wi-Fi, we hope the FCC will closely monitor the Qualcomm and Verizon trial,” said Bill Maguire, Executive Director of WiFiForward’s Save Our Wi-Fi campaign. “We are encouraged that the FCC still expects that Qualcomm and other LTE-U supporters work closely with the Wi-Fi community on coexistence testing in the future.”
The news of Verizon and Qualcomm’s LTE-U field testing comes on the heels of comments from Qualcomm’s vice president of Small Cells Neville Meijers earlier this month that Verizon will be the first wireless carrier to commercially deploy LTE-U technology.
According to Meijers, the roll-out of Qualcomm’s LTE-U chipset and commercial LTE-U service will occur in the second half of 2016.
“The FCC’s grant of Special Temporary Authority is an important step in testing pre-commercial LTE-U products,” Verizon spokesman Rich Young said in repsonse to the authorization on Friday. “Verizon will continue to collaborate with the Wi-Fi Alliance and other stakeholders on testing to ensure that LTE Unlicensed and Wi-Fi coexist successfully in unlicensed spectrum. We believe that these technologies will be important in meeting consumers’ growing mobile broadband demands.”
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)