FCC Authorizes Qualcomm/Verizon Testing of “LTE-Unlicensed” Equipment


The FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology (OET) has granted a special temporary authority (STA) to Qualcomm to conduct very small-scale performance evaluation tests of LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) equipment at two Verizon sites in Oklahoma City, OK and Raleigh, NC. For several years, amidst concerns that proponents of Wi-Fi and LTE-U technologies cannot work harmoniously in unlicensed spectrum bands, the FCC’s OET and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) have tried to find common ground between the various stakeholders in the Wi-Fi and LTE-U ecosystems, including cable companies, device manufacturers, wireless carriers and others.  The Wi-Fi Alliance, working together with advocates of LTE-U, is currently developing a test plan to evaluate the coexistence of LTE-U and Wi-Fi and other devices operating in the unlicensed spectrum.  The Wi-Fi Alliance recently released a letter expressing appreciation for Qualcomm’s efforts and pledged that it would not oppose the FCC’s grant of an STA for Qualcomm’s equipment testing at Verizon facilities.  The FCC remains optimistic about the future commercial possibilities of LTE-U, but reminds the industry that any additional experimental device operations will require a new STA from the FCC.  Furthermore, the FCC is mandating that both the experimental real-world test results and the lab test results reached by Qualcomm and Verizon must be shared with the Commission, and that any future equipment must be certified by the FCC laboratory.  The OET and WTB pledge to closely monitor the Qualcomm/Verizon joint testing of LTE-U equipment in real-world scenarios as the industry progresses towards resolution of spectrum-sharing in the unlicensed bands.

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