Evolve coalition blames Wi-Fi Alliance for buckling under cable lobby pressure

A group that represents AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and more said the Wi-Fi Alliance has “buckled under political pressure of the cable lobby” in its mission to create a suitable Wi-Fi coexistence test plan with LTE-U.

Evolve, a coalition of mobile and technology companies and associations working to promote new technologies like LTE-U and LAA, said the Wi-Fi Alliance’s most recent LTE-U Coexistence Test Workshop was a “tremendous missed opportunity.”

“We strongly believe that technologies operating in unlicensed bands need to coexist with one another,” said Evolve coalition spokesperson Shawn Chang in a statement, adding that the plan now is “manifestly biased and not based on sound engineering. The cable industry claims that the draft plan is based on a consensus and is a compromise. It is neither. In fact, it wholly ignores technical data submitted by the Wi-Fi community and rejects out of hand a compromise proposal by the LTE-U community made just last week.”

The coalition characterized the Wi-Fi community as “dragging their feet through months of needless delay,” and said it represents a troubling pattern by the Wi-Fi Alliance and the cable lobby of choosing self-interests over consumers’ interests. In fact, the coalition said, it risks abandoning common ground on vitally important areas of spectrum sharing, a trend that is expected to become more prevalent in the years ahead as the nation struggles with limited spectrum resources.

“These actions extend far beyond LTE-U and jeopardize progress in the 5.9 and 5.3-5.4 GHz bands, as well as the development of new technologies for 5G, Citizen Broadband Radio and the 802.11 ax standard itself,” Chang said, adding that the coalition and its members remain committed to providing consumers with “new and innovative mobile broadband solutions today and well into the future.”

This contrasts with the applause that WifiForward, a coalition that includes Comcast, Broadcom, Boingo Wireless and others, gave to the Wi-Fi Alliance’s efforts to reach compromises. Representatives from Comcast and CableLabs recently met with FCC engineering staff to discuss the Wi-Fi Alliance’s test plan, calling it “an extraordinary compromise on the part of Wi-Fi proponents” – and one they are supporting even though it they believe it leaves half of all outdoor Wi-Fi connections vulnerable to LTE-U degradation.

Asked about the coalition’s claims that the Wi-Fi Alliance has buckled under political pressure from the cable lobby, Wi-Fi Alliance Vice President of Marketing Kevin Robinson told FierceWirelessTech that the Wi-Fi industry and ecosystem is extremely diverse, including service providers, silicon vendors, consumer electronics companies, the automotive industry and more. The Wi-Fi Alliance represents all these segments and in fact, the very members who are working on the test plan come from a wide range of these segments.

Ultimately, the Wi-Fi Alliance is confident that the test plan it delivers in September will meet the objectives that were set at the beginning of the effort – one that hasn’t been easy given the intrinsic differences between the various stakeholders. Robinson said the alliance also is encouraged by the number of companies that continue to contribute to its efforts toward a coexistence test plan.

The test plan is undergoing some additional revisions and the project soon will enter the Beta phase. A multi-vendor test event, with both LTE-U and Wi-Fi vendors, will take place later this month at a lab in Santa Clara, California.

For more:

- see this Evolve statement

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Wi-Fi Alliance on track to release LTE-U coexistence test plan by Sept. 21
Wi-Fi group claims ‘extraordinary compromise’ on LTE-U, but Qualcomm begs to differ