Qualcomm has announced today that it plans to show off some new technology at MWC that will allow mobile phones to take advantage of unlicensed spectrum typically reserved for Wi-Fi.
The new technology, called LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U), works by taking advantage of unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band instead of licensed and controlled spectrum — typically in lower frequencies — traditionally used by phones. One of the main concerns some may have with this technology is how it will affect current Wi-Fi networks that run on the 5GHz band. Qualcomm says:
In order for LTE-U to provide maximum benefit, it must operate harmoniously alongside billions of existing Wi-Fi devices. Qualcomm Technologies is working to integrate LTE and Wi-Fi at the system level, and employs a robust set of protection features to promote the best possible co-existence between LTE-U and Wi-Fi networks. These innovations are designed to ensure users can connect to the Internet however they prefer, while operators can make unified use of all available spectrum to increase capacity. This is designed to result in easier and cost-effective network deployment and operations for carriers and a seamless experience for their consumers.
The company also says that its LTE-U solutions, which include a new RF transciever and small cell SoC will allow users to take advantage of better performance than either LTE or Wi-Fi by themselves.
The company plans to show the technology off at Mobile World Congress next week, where it will hold demonstrations using its user test equipment. As far as availability, the company says that it expects LTE-U integrated SoCs to be available in the second half of 2015 — the question then will be how long before phone makers and carriers want to integrate it into their own plans.