NYC scowls at LTE-U in open letter

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Francisco Diez\Wikipedia\CC 2.0 Generic (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

The City of New York became the latest entity to weigh in on the subject of LTE-U, as an open letter from the mayor’s office to policymakers at the 3GPP standards body pushes for thorough protection for existing Wi-Fi.

LTE-U, a carrier technology designed to take the load off of existing networks by using the unlicensed frequency bands where Wi-Fi lives, has provoked widespread concerns about interference and disruption. The technology’s inventors, Qualcomm and Ericsson, and the carriers have insisted that LTE-U contains features that will enable it to co-exist peacefully with Wi-Fi, but many others, from the cable industry to Google and Microsoft, have expressed serious doubts.

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The letter, which is signed by counsel to the mayor Maya Wiley, lists several municipal Wi-Fi implementations and the benefits they provide to residents of New York, warning that those benefits could be lost if LTE-U interferes with their signals.

“Even a modest loss of coverage for a Wi-Fi hotspot, when multiplied and magnified over the scale of New York City, could impact millions of users daily and decrease the value of hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private investment,” Wiley wrote. “Likewise, any increase in latency could undermine the utility of the City’s investments for innovative voice and video applications.”

Both sides of the debate are collaborating on testing protocols, under the aegis of the Wi-Fi Alliance, that will help resolve the concern’s around LTE-U’s ability to play nice with other signals. Wiley’s letter urges 3GPP – the body directly responsible for wireless standards used by the carriers – to follow suit and ensure that the airwaves are protected from harmful interference.

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