A battle between some of the biggest tech companies in the U.S. is being waged in the airwaves.
Google, Microsoft, Comcast and other large tech companies are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission against a new LTE technology Verizon is developing, claiming it will have an adverse effect on Wi-Fi, Bloomberg Buisnessweek reports.
Verizon, like all U.S. cellular carriers, licenses specific bands of radio waves from the U.S. government to deliver data to your phone. There’s also free, unlicensed radio waves that can be used to deliver data, though today’s phones aren’t equipped to receive data by these means. Verizon wants to change that by equipping phones with chips that can take advantage of what it’s calling LTE in Licensed Spectrum (LTE-U).
The advantage, according to Verizon, of using LTE-U is to reduce congestion in LTE, providing users with faster, more consistent data speeds. LTE-U works by utilizing small cell towers and wireless routers. Hardware-manufacture Qualcomm developed the concept for LTE-U and is building the chipset that would allow phones to utilize the unlicensed spectrum.
Google and cohorts see a problem with this: significant degradation of Wi-Fi. While LTE-U is said to reduce congestion in cellular data, it can operate in the same bandwidth as Wi-Fi, essentially prioritizing the LTE signal over Wi-Fi. The companies against the adoption of LTE-U are lobbying to require more testing before the system is adopted. The FCC isn’t entering the debate itself, but a spokesperson told Bloomberg that it’s “closely monitoring” the proceedings between the parties involved.
While all of these companies are rather intertwined, their aims are disparate, hence this debate. For some involved, business is built on the back of Wi-Fi, where others rely on cellular service to provide their services.
The FCC hasn’t intervened yet, but don’t be surprised if it does.