With consumer mobile usage skyrocketing and the global race to 5G already underway, U.S. spectrum policy conversations are taking on an even more urgent tone as we look for an all-of-the-above approach to address both short and long-term spectrum needs.
With so much at stake for the mobile future, the FCC recently released a public notice to take a closer look at the one of the most promising opportunities to maximize mobile connectivity, the use of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies in unlicensed spectrum bands.
While clearing licensed spectrum for commercial wireless continues to be a priority, reducing congestion is key to a seamless user experience and unlicensed spectrum plays an important role in addressing those concerns. Wi-Fi is critical for carriers to offload mobile traffic to ensure a more seamless user experience with 46% of global mobile data traffic offloaded through Wi-Fi last year. Developing LTE technology to operate in unlicensed spectrum bands will help expand network capacity, allowing mobile service providers to bring consumers unparalleled service and strong broadband connections. And to address our growing need for speed, LTE in unlicensed will also offer even faster download speeds than Wi-Fi.
The wireless sector is working to develop next-generation services and finding innovative ways to address growing consumer demand. With the cable industry looking to forge its own wireless path, it’s no wonder that cable providers are doing everything they can to slow down this progress, shore up their own business models, and unnecessarily draw the FCC into the issue to block competition.
The wireless sector is extremely competitive and we welcome the cable industry’s interest in expanding their footprint into the mobile future, but the FCC cannot and should not be picking winners and losers by sidelining new technologies deployed in unlicensed spectrum bands.
LTE in unlicensed is designed to avoid interference to existing operations. With hundreds of millions of consumers using devices that rely on Wi-Fi, wireless carriers would not risk undermining their customers’ wireless experience. These companies are committed to working collaboratively to find technical solutions and address any issues. The FCC is asking important questions in the proceeding, but with technologies evolving faster than regulators can respond, key technical decisions are best made by network engineers, not through government intervention.
Unlicensed spectrum is based on permission-less innovation, but the cable industry is desperately trying to get the FCC to erect a barrier to new technologies. This is an important moment for the FCC to continue to show great restraint and allow the engineers to work through whatever issues may arise to help maximize opportunities for consumers, mobile developers and businesses who rely on mobile connectivity.
The mobile community remains committed to expanding and upgrading network technologies to address skyrocketing demand. It is imperative that the FCC allows this innovation to continue unimpeded and promote growth in licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands – for consumers and our mobile future.