Wi-Fi and Unlicensed LTE

Can the FCC Avoid a Tragedy of the Spectrum Commons?

Wi-Fi is the workhorse of internet access, carrying 60-to-80 percent of all mobile device data traffic. Wi-Fi makes wireless internet access far more available, fast and affordable—particularly for youth, lower-income, and minority populations. New York City is building out “fast and free” Wi-Fi citywide. And the president of the European Union has just proposed making free Wi-Fi a basic service in every town across the continent.

Despite this, consumer advocates, internet companies, and some cities argue that Wi-Fi as we know it is at risk due to a plan by cellular carriers to begin using the same unlicensed frequencies of the public airwaves to augment the exclusively-licensed spectrum they currently use.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has delayed approving carrier LTE-over-Unlicensed (LTE-U) pending the development of a multi-stakeholder coexistence testing plan. That testing plan is due to be finalized and released September 21—and remains highly controversial.

Will LTE on unlicensed bands disrupt the Wi-Fi ecosystem? Can the two technologies coexist fairly? Should the FCC find a way to avoid a “tragedy of the unlicensed commons” that facilitates Wi-Fi and more than $250 billion/year in economic value? Or should the FCC take a hands-off role and let industry players fight it out? 

Kevin Robinson vice president of the Wi-Fi Alliance, will describe the the test plan and process for coexistence. Our panelists—representing all sides of the debate—will then discuss the impact of LTE-U on Wi-Fi and smart-city investments, as well as what the FCC should do to ensure fair sharing between the two wireless technologies.

Please join us for this very timely update and debate.

Lunch provided.


Kevin Robinson
Vice President for Marketing, Wi-Fi Alliance

Josh Breitbart
Senior Advisor for Broadband, Office of the Mayor, New York City

Patrick Welsh
Assistant VP for Federal Regulatory Affairs, Verizon

Chris Szymanski
Director, Product Marketing and Government Affairs, Broadcom

Steve Sharkey
Vice President, Engineering and Technology Policy, T-Mobile

David Don
Vice President for Regulatory Policy, Comcast Corporation

Harold Feld
Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge


Michael Calabrese
Director, Wireless Future Project, Open Technology Institute at New America