First LTE-U Devices Get Approved by the FCC

However, an industry fight has been set off by the plan to bring LTE to unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. It will be interesting to see how the FCC addresses this; they could punish users who do so, make it easier for device makers to recertify devices, make sweeping changes to the law in order to allow current devices to use LTE-U if their hardware is compatible, or simply order their carriers to shut them down. While wireless groups had pitched LTE-U as a solution for carriers looking to improve speeds, opponents have anxious that the LTE-U traffic could cause interference with Wi-Fi networks that ran on nearby frequencies.

"With LTE-U, starting this spring, T-Mobile customers will be able to tap into the first 20MHz of underutilized unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band and use it for additional LTE capacity", T-Mobile said immediately after the FCC decision. On Wednesday, the Bellevue-based mobile service provider announced the deployment of a new technology called LTE-U, and it's hoping that it'll provide a greater edge over competitors like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint when it comes to network capabilities. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement today on the agency's first authorization of LTE-U devices: "Today, the Commission announced authorization of the first-ever LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed) devices in the 5 GHz band". In other words, they will get more LTE capacity.

Multichannel News reports that carriers are excited by the prospects LTE-U will bring.

"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", pointed out FCc Chief Engineer Julius Knapp.
It also promises to give way to Wi-Fi as the need arises. T-Mobile has been working with the 5GHz spectrum for a while though, so we're confident that will go fine.

"Ericsson welcomes the FCC's approval of LTE-U", commented Glenn Laxdal, Head of Network Products, Ericsson North America.

There's no telling when iPhones will support the LTE-U band.