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Analyst: LTE-U angst roiling Wi-Fi markets

The WiFi industry is taking a closer look at LTE-U, as this type of technology could serve as an alternative to carrier WiFi technology or otherwise disrupt WiFi networks and markets. As a leader in corporate technology solutions, CTS Cabling is keeping up-to-date on these innovations and their impacts, to better help our clients adapt to changes.

LTE-U, otherwise known as LTE in unlicensed spectrum, operates in the unlicensed 5 GHz band. LTE-U uses 4G/LTE radios to send and receive data, using the same frequencies as WiFi. So, LTE-U carriers can send traffic from their congested networks to consumer WiFi.

Ahmed Ali, research analyst at ABI Research, noted that LTE-U does not sense channel activity before transmitting.

“Instead, it applies a form of time sharing using periodic time slots,” said Ali. “Such scheduled transmission of LTE-U not only adds interference and increases collisions for WiFi’s opportunistic transmission, but also defies the concept of fair sharing as it seizes complete control over the channel and WiFi’s transmission window.”

WiFi technology is designed to be cooperative, but if LTE-U is left unchecked, it could drastically decrease the functionality of WiFi networks. With both types of technologies vying for room on the spectrum, you may be left with a WiFi network that is slow or unresponsive compared to its usual status.

LTE-U can be useful for operators using the technology, expanding network capacity without having to integrate another network – however, to win over users, said Ali, operators must make a compelling value proposition to compete with WiFi service.

Ali also noted enterprises and venues that serve as the hosts for LTE-U and WiFi technology also have a role to play, explaining site permission, lack of neutral-host support, and possible network interference are all concerns.

“In addition to ensuring minimum impact on WiFi operation, operators need to win enterprise community over with a true problem-solving solution,” Ali said.

Some people suggest that WiFi technology and LTE-U can work together, keeping users connected all the time. For example, approaches like LTE + WiFi Link Aggregation leverage Wifi technology without impacting the unlicensed band, offering many advantages without the aforementioned issues.

CTS Cabling, as a premier cabling installer, is happy to discuss your questions and concerns about LTE-U, Wifi technology, or other network issues that may impact your systems – contact us today and we will work with you!

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