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AT&T Wants LTE-U Opponents to Agree to Play Fair

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Nov 12, 2015, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Joan Marsh, AT&T's vice president of federal and regulatory affairs, today prosed that the FCC use existing rules to help organizations on opposite sides of the LTE-U debate find some middle ground. LTE-U is the use of LTE services over unlicensed spectrum, or WiFi frequencies. Proprietors of WiFi gear and networks worry about interference and don't want cellular network operators to encroach on what they see as their turf. Meanwhile, carriers want to use unlicensed spectrum to help offset capacity needs on their cellular (and licensed) spectrum. AT&T calls LTE-U opponents' fears unfounded, but recognizes that everyone must agree to move forward. Marsh believes the FCC can use laws built into the 1996 Telecommunications Act to manage interference concerns. The heart of the matter relies on how the FCC chooses to define words such as "willful" and "malicious" and "cause interference." In short, Marsh believes setting clear definitions will give the FCC the teeth it needs to ensure LTE-U proponents have the access they want without causing the interference LTE-U opponents fear. "We need a clear framework that will allow those technologies and the innovators behind them to continue to deliver on the promise that unlicensed spectrum offers — to innovate free from burdensome regulatory requirements and exclusionary conduct by incumbents for the benefit of wireless consumers everywhere — while ensuring existing users that all will be required by the FCC to act reasonably and play fair," concluded Marsh.

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