With congestion already a problem, do we want more traffic from telcos? Is it smart to give up 25%-75% of the bandwdith for telco LTE? "LAA" is seeing a huge push in 3GPP and elsewhere. Giant telcos want to make this happen incredibly fast although no one has done field trials to prove the sharing can work. They want to create "facts on the ground" before the regulator, much less the public, even know what's going on.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray says they will deploy in 2015, Verizon's Tony Melone is not far behind and AT&T is working in standards. SK in Korea and all the equipment guys are jumping on. More than half of traffic now goes on WiFi but the telcos can't charge for it in most countries. So they are moving the free WiFi calls to LTE "Assisted Access" so they can charge. If they clobber WiFi in the process, better for them. If all the current uncharged WiFi traffic moved to LTE, most phone bills would double or triple.
Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton of Macquarie broke the story, which was picked by by Fierce, Jan Brodkin and Kevin Fitchard. Telcos grabbing a big hunk of WiFi is about as important a mobile story as I can imagine, but I couldn't find even a single report in a major newspaper. WSJ, NYT, WP and the Guardian haven't even mentioned LAA.
I believe that new WiFi applications will switch even more traffic to WiFi and reduce consumer costs. For example, Marconi fellow John Cioffi has shown a way to a home gigabit using WiFI and DSL.Many agree with me that more WiFi spectrum is the most efficient way to deliver more capacity to all of us, although Marconi Fellow Marty Cooper points to technical advantages of LTE. Informally, the U.S. FCC has decided that at least half of the 3.5 GHz spectrum coming available will be available for WiFi. (WiFi Alliance note below)
Currently, most phone companies charge for traffic on their LTE but not for WiFi traffic. If they did, the average phone bill would double or triple. This gives telcos a powerful incentive to reduce the use and availability of WiFi. That doesn't make them evil, just ordinary businesses looking for maximum profit. Of course they will try to tilt standards their way. The suppliers - Ericsson and Qualcomm are the most visible - nearly always go along with the telcos, their largest customers. (Ericsson note below)
It's crucial that the decisions on WiFi-LTE standards be done in an open fashion, with a strong role for those who put the consumer first. A natural way to do that would be for the IETF, backed by ISOC and governments, to extend their liaison role with those working on standards. At ITU, for example, ISOC can appoint as many delegates as they like to any standards committee, as discussed by Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré and ISOC President Kathy Brown in Busan.
The public needs to have a role, alongside the industry, because $hundreds of billions are involved.
Picture: Vint Cerf, U.S. CTO Megan and Marty Cooper at the 2014 Marconi Gala. At a Marconi webinar, Cooper pointed to the efficiency of LTE, at least until WiFI gets better congestion tools.
(Note - I've asked Ericsson, Qualcomm, Verizon and others for comments to update this article. Additional release added Feb 26)
Wi-Fi Alliance® statement on License-Assisted Access (LAA)
License Assisted Access live in Ericsson Labs for Verizon, SK Telecom and T-Mobile
2015-02-10 Categories: Press Releases
Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. combine licensed and 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum on small cells to deliver data-speed boost up to 450 Mbps
Verizon, SK Telecom and T-Mobile US, Inc. executives observe License Assisted Access (LAA) peak rate and fair-sharing demonstrations in Ericsson labs in Canada and Sweden
Last month at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) announced License Assisted Access (LAA), sometimes referred to as LTE-U, a mobile technology innovation that improves indoor app coverage for smartphone users. LAA is live in Ericsson labs and is now supporting the aggregation of licensed and unlicensed spectrum for peak rates up to 450 Mbps and enabling fair sharing of spectrum between mobile and Wi-Fi devices. The technology milestone has been achieved in cooperation with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated. Leading mobile operators, including Verizon, SK Telecom and T-Mobile US, Inc. are already investigating the performance benefits that LAA can offer to mobile customers on their networks.
Ed Chan, Senior Vice President, Network Planning, Verizon, says: "Verizon is committed to researching and adopting new technologies that will consistently improve the performance of our network and ultimately the experience we deliver to our customers. We are encouraged by the headway that Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies have made in demonstrating the benefits LAA can provide."
Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center, SK Telecom, says: "SK Telecom is very active in the development of 5G technologies, which will be an extension and evolution of our LTE network. We are delighted to achieve the successful trial of the 450Mbps LAA and fair-sharing technology with Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies and will continue to work closely with them to secure advanced network technologies."
LAA, or LTE-U, extends the benefits of LTE to unlicensed spectrum, providing reliable and predictable performance. The licensed band provides an anchor to ensure a seamless user experience with full mobility while the unlicensed band provides incremental capacity and enables faster data speeds.
Neville Ray, Chief Technical Officer, T-Mobile , says: "It is very encouraging to see License Assisted Access live in the Ericsson labs already delivering on the promises of both a better mobile broadband customer experience and the fair sharing and co-existence within the 5 GHz band among wireless and Wi-Fi devices. With over 500 MHz of underutilized spectrum in the 5 GHz Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII) band, LAA can provide our customers with superior network performance while effectively co-existing with other Wi-Fi devices to ensure a better experience for all wireless users."
Ericsson LAA incorporates fair sharing within the 5 GHz band to accommodate traditional Wi-Fi users. Fair sharing works on the principle that Wi-Fi and LAA users would have equal access to the spectrum.
The lab trials of both LAA fair sharing and licensed-unlicensed aggregation - 20 MHz on licensed band and 40 MHz on unlicensed 5 GHz band - were demonstrated in cooperation with Qualcomm, from the Ericsson radio development units in Ottawa, Canada and Stockholm, Sweden.
Neville Meijers, Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., says: "Qualcomm Technologies shares Ericsson's commitment to delivering groundbreaking technologies that could have a dramatic impact on mobile user experiences. Our cooperation on delivering this live LTE-U demonstration for leading mobile operators around the world is just the latest of many industry innovations where Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson have driven the interoperability efforts that are critical to commercialization."
Starting in the fourth quarter 2015, Ericsson is adding LAA to its indoor small cell portfolio, including the Ericsson RBS 6402 Indoor Picocell (targeted at smaller buildings under 50,000 square feet) followed by the Ericsson Radio Dot System (for medium and large buildings).
Thomas Norï¿½n, Vice President and Head of Radio Product Management, Ericsson, says: "Carrier Aggregation was an important technology trend for mobile networks in 2014 and LAA is already set to be a key focus for mobile operators in 2015. Innovations like LAA that improve the user experience while increasing spectrum efficiency will be significant milestones that mobile industry leaders must both drive and support."
5G standards do not yet exist but are expected to be an evolution of today's LTE networks along with new radio technologies and use cases. LAA's use of higher frequencies on small cell architectures and the aggregation of licensed with unlicensed spectrum bands reflect 5G technology focus areas. These will be key to operators as they evolve their LTE networks to support increasing mobile broadband demand from consumers, businesses and the Internet of Things (IoT).
For a demonstration of LAA at Mobile World Congress 2015, visit Ericsson in Hall 2, Stand 2N60, and visit Qualcomm in Hall 3, Stand 3E10
Qualcomm Extends LTE to Unlicensed Spectrum to Enhance Mobile Experiences and Help Operators Meet Network Capacity Demand