October 8, 2015 — Either Congress is getting pressure from the telecom lobbyists, or it is running out of petty cash. But legislation is being brewed up that will push the FCC into coming up with a plan to offer up more spectrum. Called the “Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015,” Congress wants the FCC to sit down with NTIA, and come up with some data for the house and senate to chew on.
The objective is to free up some more government spectrum, either by relocating some of the users or forcing them to live on shared, unlicensed frequencies.
What this kinda smells like is that big carriers are looking for space to deploy its Wi-Fi-like service, LTE-U. LTE-U supplements the carrier’s LTE service by offloading traffic to other frequencies, just like Wi-Fi. But unlike Wi-Fi, LTE-U is married to the carrier by deploying small cells in multiple areas. LTE-U is able to offer users the same benefits if Wi-Fi. Plus they can use it to offer enhanced services or products to their customers (for a price of course).
But there is a potential conflict with LTE-U: the fact that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth already play in the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum. In Wi-Fi, there is a “politeness protocol” that LTE lacks, which means that Wi-Fi will back off if it senses interference from other users. If LTE is allowed in this frequency, it might bully Wi-Fi and take over the band. But that is a story for another day. However, the story for this day seems a bit clearer now.