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Google, MSN, Time Warner and Others Say LTE-U May Wreck Wi-Fi

Verizon says use of unlicensed spectrum will help clear cellular congestion and keep the Internet working at “top speed”

Note: This article has been edited to correct an earlier version, which contained a misattributed quote that has now been removed.

WASHINGTON�Verizon is a leader among the big four carriers in its push to equip phones with chips that will let them make use of the unlicensed spectrum used for Wi-Fi all across the US, according to Bloomberg.

Verizon says that use of the unlicensed spectrum will help clear cellular congestion and keep the Internet working at �top speed� as data use climbs ever higher. �Unlicensed spectrum is going to be an important part of providing a better mobile broadband experience for our customers,� says David Young, Verizon�s vice president for public policy.

However, Google, Microsoft, Comcast, and others, say the proposed system, called LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum or LTE-U, risks disrupting the existing Wi-Fi access most people enjoy.

The three companies are members of a group lobbying the FCC to delay LTE-U�s adoption pending further tests. All three declined to comment for this Bloomberg story, referring instead to the Oct.�23 FCC filing they joined that claims LTE-U �has avoided the long-proven standards-setting process and would substantially degrade consumer Wi-Fi service across the country.�

Verizon says delay is pointless�as does Qualcomm, which makes the chips that enable LTE-U. �We have a capability that we�ve proven can coexist, and we�re ready to go with it,� says Matt Grob, Qualcomm�s chief technology officer. �We don�t want to wait. Our partners, they don�t want to wait.�

In October, chief technology officers and executives from companies including Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Google, Microsoft, and Comcast, met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to show him reports they say prove LTE-U would harm Wi-Fi networks. The agency ultimately may have to make the call, says Paul Gallant, an analyst for investment bank Guggenheim Securities. Google and Comcast are planning to offer services that rely on Wi-Fi, and they want the FCC to make sure they�re protected from interference, he says.

�Folks, you�ve got to come together and resolve this in a broad-based standard,� FCC Chairman Wheeler said at a news conference on Nov. 19 in Washington.�