Can Wi-Fi coexist with LTE for unlicensed spectrum?

Ways need to be found to enable fair co-existence between Wi-Fi and cellular in unlicensed spectrum bands say speakers from EE, BskyB, Arqiva and Nokia at Cambridge Wireless event in London

Can Wi-Fi coexist with LTE for unlicensed spectrum?

Questions were raised over whether Wi-Fi is safe with the introduction of LTE for unlicensed spectrum at a Cambridge Wireless (CW) Mobile Broadband SIG event last week (17 Sept), hosted by University College London at IdeaLondon.

“The wireless industry has yet to deliver a truly cellular-Wi-Fi seamless experience as it is either too hard to do or easier just to improve old-G specs,” said Niko Louvranos, Business Development Manager – Telecoms at Arqiva. “I’m afraid that unless we put more focus on delivering a truly user-centric experience with 5G, we will lose the forest for the trees once more.”

“The thirst to use the abundant license-free spectrum for LTE has started to create friction with plans that extend to deploying LTE to elbow Wi-Fi out from the unlicensed spectrum altogether,” said Sami Susiaho, Head of Edge Technologies, The Cloud Networks at BskyB.

“While regulators have stated that they won’t get in the middle of this debate and let the industry sort itself out, thankfully the two camps have finally sat around a table to discuss how to facilitate fair co-existence between these technologies. But there is a significant risk as the worst case scenario would see LTE coming to license free without a sufficient co-existence mechanism or one that it is made ‘optional’ in the deployments.”

Speakers at the event agreed that integrating the two technologies in a way that benefits users is preferable to simply focusing on enhancing LTE or Wi-Fi in isolation. “The role of WiFi is drastically changing in an increasingly mobile centric world and this shift in priorities and expectations from users is forcing every operator to reassess how they deliver services and connectivity,” said Edward Ellis, Senior Corporate Strategy Manager at EE.

In his talk, Milan Bavisi, MBB Solution Manager at Nokia, addressed what kind of data speeds are likely to become available as we move from LTE–Advanced towards 5G. He also touched on some areas of LTE-Advanced that are likely to play a key role in the 5G story.

“We are still at the beginning of the long-term evolution considering the data speeds mobile operators are able to offer in today’s networks. However, as more spectrum becomes available and the ecosystem continues to develop, there is likely to be a massive potential uplift in data speeds on offer to a mobile user.”

To view copies of presentations posted after the event please visit the Cambridge Wireless resources page:




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