The Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group that certifies Wi-Fi products for interoperability, has highlighted the importance of the technology to the daily lives of Americans ahead of a testing summit that will try to shed some light on potential conflicts between Wi-Fi and a carrier technology called LTE-U.
LTE-U is a technology that some U.S. wireless carriers want to use to take the pressure off their networks – using the same unlicensed spectrum as Wi-Fi networks. While LTE-U proponents insist that the coexistence features built into the technology will avoid any conflicts, critics aren’t convinced, arguing that LTE-U could disrupt Wi-Fi networks.
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And the Wi-Fi Alliance – which counts both supporters and skeptics of LTE-U among its ranks – says that the stakes are high. The group’s research, which surveyed more than 2,000 Americans, found that 68% would be “very annoyed” if they didn’t have access to uninterrupted Wi-Fi, and 72% said that their productivity would be impaired if their Wi-Fi access was disrupted.
It’s with this in mind that all parties are gathering today in Palo Alto for a summit to try and get on the same page where the interference issue is concerned. The alliance is pushing for extensive, independent testing of LTE-U devices, to ensure that they can co-exist with Wi-Fi.
The meeting also highlights the industry’s awareness that, if they don’t ensure that the interference issue is addressed, the government could step in to address it for them – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler hinted earlier this year that this was a possibility if no solution is found.
The president and CEO of the alliance, Edgar Figueroa, said that the expectation is that the problem will be solved through discussion, rather than regulation.
“Wi-Fi has been a model of good unlicensed spectrum stewardship, and we expect similar etiquette from all technologies sharing that spectrum,” Figueroa said in a statement. “Cooperation among a broad cross-section of industry provides the best opportunity to deliver a viable solution for fair coexistence.”