The following is an excerpt from Pete Pachal | February 11, 2016 | Yahoo.com |
We ask a lot of our phones today — video streaming, video calling, virtual reality — and we expect the network to keep up. The problem: There’s only so much spectrum in the airwaves for data.
That’s why the companies who make mobile modems are casting their eyes on the unlicensed spectrum that’s typically reserved for Wi-Fi. Qualcomm just announced its X16 modem, which taps into that spectrum to achieve the ludicrously fast speed of 1Gbps, or gigabits per second.
That’s the theoretical best-case-scenario spec, but it’s impressive nonetheless. However, Qualcomm’s wireless tech needs to coexist peacefully with Wi-Fi to go that fast.
Some heavy hitters in tech say it doesn’t. Last December, Google, Microsoft, Comcast and others asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to step in before this new generation of modems — which tap into unlicensed spectrum with a tech called LTE-U — start to appear, potentially slowing Wi-Fi networks to a crawl. Since the two wireless technologies use the same spectrum, there’s big potential for interference.
Qualcomm, Verizon and others say they’ve specifically designed their LTE-U modems to make sure that doesn’t happen. Technologies like “listen before talk” mean LTE-U signals have “good manners” around Wi-Fi, reducing the chance of interference. Their tests, they say, show Wi-Fi is virtually unaffected by LTE-U.
Google and others say their own tests show the opposite. Google’s letter to the FCC said LTE-U “coexists poorly” with Wi-Fi, and another study showed LTE-U, depending on how it’s configured, can impede Wi-Fi by up to 80%.
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