Analyst: LTE-U angst roiling Wi-Fi markets

​Operating in the unlicensed 5 GHz band, LTE-U’s coexistence with Wi-Fi has become a primary concern for the Wi-Fi industry, which anticipates disruption on both the technical and business levels, according to ABI Research.

Jul 14th, 2015
Smart city IoT pioneers seen leveraging standards, open source, and AI elements
Smart city IoT pioneers seen leveraging standards, open source, and AI elements

​Operating in the unlicensed 5 GHz band, LTE-U’s coexistence with Wi-Fi has become a primary concern for the Wi-Fi industry, which anticipates disruption on both the technical and business levels, according to new data from ABI Research.

The analyst notes that, "unlike Wi-Fi, LTE-U, as a propriety solution does not sense the channel activity before transmitting. Instead, it applies a form of time sharing using periodic time slots. Such scheduled transmission of LTE-U not only adds interference and increases collisions for Wi-Fi’s opportunistic transmission, but also defies the concept of fair sharing as it seizes complete control over the channel and Wi-Fi’s transmission window."

LTE-U provides clear advantages for mobile operators, states ABI. The technology uses the free unlicensed spectrum to expand network capacity and does so without having to integrate another network, like Wi-Fi, within the cellular core. However, the analyst adds that the technology's advantages for end-users are not so clear.

“LTE-U advocates focus on promoting its spectrum utilization superiority over Wi-Fi; promising better data rates and QoS. But will this significantly affect the average mobile user preferences? Operators should make a compelling value proposition in order to compete with mostly free uncapped Wi-Fi service,” comments Ahmed Ali, research analyst at ABI Research.

Enterprises and venues also play an important role in this debate as the main host for LTE-U and Wi-Fi. “LTE-U small cells in the enterprise still face the same challenges of site permission and the lack of neutral-host support," adds Ali. "Concerns of possible interference with Wi-Fi make it even a harder sell. In addition to ensuring minimum impact on Wi-Fi operation, operators need to win enterprise community over with a true problem-solving solution."

The analyst findings are part of ABI Research’s Carrier Wi-Fi market research. Learn more.

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