FCC Authorizes First LTE Devices in Unlicensed Spectrum

LTE-UThe Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC authorized the first LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed) devices in the 5 GHz band on 22 February, 2017.  This action follows a collaborative industry process to ensure co-existence of LTE-U with Wi-Fi and other unlicensed devices operating in the 5 GHz band.

The FCC’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. The industry has developed various standards within the framework of these rules such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee that are designed to coexist in the same frequency spectrum. These and other unlicensed technologies have been deployed extensively and are used by consumers and industry for a wide variety of applications.

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 LTE-U devices that were certified last week have been tested to show they meet all of the FCC’s rules. 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 FCC will remain committed to ensuring that all who seek to introduce new products and technologies may do so provided their devices comply with their rules.