Maybe end-of-the-year LTE-U deployments aren’t a pipe dream, after all?
The Wi-Fi Alliance said this week it is on track to deliver a co-existence testing standard for LTE-U products in August.
According to Kevin Robinson, the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Vice President of Marketing, the Wi-Fi Alliance is already in the validation phase of the new test plan.
Robinson said the forthcoming plan is based on input from industry stakeholders and will offer the first agreed upon co-existence test protocol. According to Robinson, the new test plan will offer accurate, repeatable results that are more reliable than the assorted co-existence tests conducted today.
“We’re working as quickly as possible to develop the test regimen without forgetting that the primary purpose is to determine whether these technologies play fairly with Wi-Fi,” Robinson said.
Once the plan is publicly released in August, Robinson said testing will begin immediately in certified third party labs. Robinson said the Wi-Fi Alliance will qualify at least one lab to run the testing, but said other parties will be allowed to work to qualify other labs as well.
“When the test plan is delivered, that also is the first day vendors can start sending their equipment into a third party neutral lab for testing,” Robinson said. “There isn’t a long roll out period. So whenever they’re ready, they can go in and test that equipment.”
Robinson said the testing will come at a cost, but said that fee will be on par with testing that is currently done for other types of new technology.
According to Robinson, the test process will be fairly swift, measuring on the scale of days rather than weeks or months.
Robinson said it is the Wi-Fi Alliance’s understanding that its co-existence testing will be one aspect of how the FCC evaluates whether LTE-U devices are approved for the market or not, but said he ultimately could not speak for the commission.
An FCC spokesman on Thursday said only the FCC has encouraged the industry to resolve the concerns about fair sharing between devices on its own. The FCC has not made any further plans related to LTE-U, the FCC spokesman said.
Robinson declined to comment on how the testing process could impact commercial roll-outs of the technology planned by Verizon and T-Mobile for the end of this year, but noted device and Silicon Valley vendors have already committed to completing the testing.
However, the release timetable of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s test protocol – along with its quick turnaround time – jives with Qualcomm’s comments that it is on track to supply technology for LTE-U launches later this year.
In their FCC applications for LTE-U testing, Qualcomm, Verizon and T-Mobile said they plan to use the Wi-Fi Alliance’s co-existence test plan.
Both Verizon and T-Mobile are aiming for commercial LTE-U deployments by the end of this year.