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FCC Authorizes First LTE-U Devices

The commission authorized the first LTE for unlicensed devices in the 5 GHz band

WASHINGTON � FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement on Feb. 22�regarding the agency�s first authorization of LTE-U devices. (We�ve previously covered LTE-U device developments.)�

�Today, the commission announced authorization of the first-ever LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed) devices in the 5 GHz band. This is a significant advance in wireless innovation and a big win for wireless consumers,� Pai said. �

�LTE-U allows wireless providers to deliver mobile data traffic using unlicensed spectrum while sharing the road, so to speak, with Wi-Fi,� he continued. �The excellent staff of the FCC�s Office of Engineering and Technology has certified that the LTE-U devices being approved today are in compliance with FCC rules. And voluntary industry testing has demonstrated that both these devices and Wi-Fi operations can co-exist in the 5 GHz band. This heralds a technical breakthrough in the many shared uses of this spectrum.�

�This is a great deal for wireless consumers, too. It means they get to enjoy the best of both worlds: a more robust, seamless experience when their devices are using cellular networks and the continued enjoyment of Wi-Fi, one of the most creative uses of spectrum in history.��

�I remain committed to ensuring a competitive and vibrant unlicensed ecosystem that fosters innovation and promotes the efficient use of spectrum. Today�s announcement, enabled by cooperation among private actors and collaboration with the public sector, reflects that commitment.�

Julius Knapp, the chief engineer of the Office of Engineering and Technology, also commented on the day�s news about LTE-U:��LTE-U is a specification that was developed and supported by a group of companies within the LTE-U Forum.� LTE-U and Wi-Fi stakeholders worked together under the auspices of the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop co-existence guidelines and an evaluation test plan that was released last fall.

�The commission�s provisions for unlicensed devices are designed to prevent harmful interference to radio communications services and stipulate that these devices must accept any harmful interference they receive. Industry has developed various standards within the framework of these rules such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee that are designed to coexist in shared spectrum. These and other unlicensed technologies have been deployed extensively and are used by consumers and industry for a wide variety of applications.

�The LTE-U devices that were certified today have been tested to show they meet all of the FCC�s rules. We understand that the LTE-U devices were evaluated successfully under the co-existence test plan. However, this is not an FCC requirement and similar to conformity testing for private sector standards the co-existence test results are not included in the FCC�s equipment certification records.�

�The circumstances in this instance were unique. We remain committed to ensuring that all who seek to introduce new products and technologies may do so provided their devices comply with the FCC rules.�