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Networking Wireless Networking IT

Worries Mount Over Upcoming LTE-U Deployments Hurting Wi-Fi 173

alphadogg writes: LTE-U is a technology developed by Qualcomm that lets a service provider broadcast and receive signals over unlicensed spectrum, which is usable by anybody – specifically, in this case, the spectrum used by Wi-Fi networks in both businesses and homes. By opening up this new spectrum, major U.S. wireless carriers hope to ease the load on the licensed frequencies they control and help their services keep up with demand. Unsurprisingly, several outside experiments that pitted standard LTE technology or 'simulated LTE-U' technology, in the case of one in-depth Google study, against Wi-Fi transmitters on the same frequencies found that LTE drastically reduced the throughput on the Wi-Fi connection.
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Worries Mount Over Upcoming LTE-U Deployments Hurting Wi-Fi

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  • by ZipK ( 1051658 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:02PM (#50671477)
    Now hotels will have a legal way to jam your personal hotspot!
    • by ichthus ( 72442 )
      And jam their own WiFi in the process. Right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Almost. Except it will be the phone companies who will be jamming wifi. Except everywhere not just in a hotel. With wifi access becoming more and more prevalent, I was wondering how the carriers were going to stay relevant. This is how, by making the next iteration of G cripple wifi's performance.

    • by mikeiver1 ( 1630021 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @11:04PM (#50676389)
      Not worried at all. The cell sites are generally very poorly protected and monitored leaving them open to attack. Piss enough users off and you are bound to get more than a few that are willing to "free up spectrum" from the hijackers that run the cellular companies. These assholes have already managed to grab nearly half of the old UHF TV spectrum after the next auction to verizon and at&t is completed. I suspect that it will only be a matter of time before the cellular companies are able to get the FCC to relegate WiFi to secondary use status behind their own services. In this though they may have a fight on their hands from the cable companies like Time Warner and others that use the installed cable/WiFi routers of their customers to extend their "free" WiFi services to their customer base. Speaking of which, we are aware that cable companies not only charge us to rent their cable routers with WiFi but then turn around and open a WiFi link to service their customers and make you pay for the power to run the service to boot?
  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:03PM (#50671481) Homepage Journal
    The 2.4 Ghz spectrum was opened up for general use because it has relatively poor long distance characteristics thanks to it being absorbed strongly by water. This lead to an explosion of use in the band where your average apartment building has dozens of devices competing for the spectrum. And now cell companies are coming full circle and stomping all over it themselves. Maybe the government could take the hint that maybe another ISM band or two would be highly welcome. Maybe they could skip selling off spectrum for billions of dollars to enormous companies and instead open it up the way they did the 2.4 Ghz band? Spectrum seems a bit over regulated at the moment, there's barely any room for entities that aren't massive corporations with billions of dollars to do anything.

    Over regulation is stifling innovation.
    • Maybe they could skip selling off spectrum for billions of dollars to enormous companies and instead open it up the way they did the 2.4 Ghz band?

      You must be new here. :)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:36PM (#50671811)

      Over regulation is stifling innovation.

      I've got news for you: keeping spectrum open for unlicensed use by small players IS regulation. Without regulation, giant telcos and broadcast entities could stomp all over whichever spectrum they choose without regard to whether it's ruining your WiFi.

      Stop arguing against regulation and argue against poor regulation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Without regulation, giant telcos and broadcast entities could stomp all over whichever spectrum they choose without regard to whether it's ruining your WiFi.

        Without regulation, we'd be using wideband spread spectrum for our signals, and our signals would be stomping all over any attempt by big telcos to take over the radio spectrum.

        By arguing for regulation, you're arguing for big business. Are you a 1%-er?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by the_B0fh ( 208483 )

          Are you a fucking idiot? If I send a continuous spike through an entire range of frequencies, that'd kill your "spread spectrum. Sure, you can go use other frequencies, but I can generate noise or just overwhelm any signal you can put out.

          • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

            Are you a fucking idiot? If I send a continuous spike through an entire range of frequencies, that'd kill your "spread spectrum. Sure, you can go use other frequencies, but I can generate noise or just overwhelm any signal you can put out.

            Yes, if someone is actively trying to prevent me from talking to my wi-fi base station, they can do that. But what kind of idiot would throw gigawatts of power across gigahertz just so they'd interfere with my signal? Radio Moscow?

            • by dpidcoe ( 2606549 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:31PM (#50672911)

              Yes, if someone is actively trying to prevent me from talking to my wi-fi base station, they can do that. But what kind of idiot would throw gigawatts of power across gigahertz just so they'd interfere with my signal?

              They don't need to continuously jam it, they just need to make it drop out enough to be obnoxious. Sending out a pulse crafted to disconnect people from their wireless access points several times an hour would be enough to annoy the non tech savvy into just buying a 4g connection for everything.

            • You need to remember that the power from your AP is irrelevant since your mobile devices will out put a max of about 250 mW and the average laptop and gaming console registers less than 1 watt.

        • by ooshna ( 1654125 )

          I argue for minimum wage. Does that make me a 1%er too? Where can I pick up my check?

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        You're portraying one side of the problem. The issue is, there is not enough room within the current parameters given to the market. The elephant in the room is the entity holding it. That would be the FCC. And this idea that large corporations would dominate the wave spectrum if given the chance ignores the loss in the market by doing so. If they were to purchase (the extremely expensive) band and not make use of it, they would be losing their money. Why would a sane company buy a wave spectrum and then n
        • by Marlin Schwanke ( 3574769 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:16PM (#50674981)
          Artificial scarcity? Do you even have an inkling of how crowded the EM spectrum is? The military is having to give up bands that were exclusive to their use, TV stations were moved up into gigahertz bands to free up more space at lower frequencies for mobile use. Hell, they are even trying to open up spectrum between television channels. The FCC has done a huge amount to free up spectrum for evolving uses. I know it is fashionable to assume the government is bad at everything. So do go head and blather on.
    • ... Spectrum seems a bit over regulated at the moment, there's barely any room for entities that aren't massive corporations with billions of dollars to do anything....

      You conflate 'over regulated' with 'selling to the highest bidder'. The current level of regulation can continue, it just needs to get away from the highest bidder process.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:43PM (#50671889) Homepage

      Spectrum seems a bit over regulated at the moment, there's barely any room for entities that aren't massive corporations with billions of dollars to do anything.

      Welcome to your oligarchy ... if it isn't designed to benefit massive corporations with billions of dollars, it isn't happening.

      They're the ones who have the elected people on the payroll.

    • by Sherif Hanna ( 4285701 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:54PM (#50672005)
      LTE-U doesn't use the 2.4GHz spectrum. It only uses a fraction of the channels in the 5GHz UNII band (only UNII-1 and UNII-3...no UNII-2). That means that LTE-U actually leaves the vast majority of spectrum in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz unlicensed bands exclusively for use by Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies.
      • by jwdb ( 526327 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:07PM (#50674435)

        Except that the UNII-2 and other proposed 5 GHz wifi bands overlap with radar, meaning that equipment has to implement DFS and the radar gets priority. Having LTE in -1 and -3 means that all 5 GHz bands now have to deal with non-wifi interferers.

        • by thsths ( 31372 )

          > Having LTE in -1 and -3 means that all 5 GHz bands now have to deal with non-wifi interferers.

          It is called industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio band for a reason. WiFi always had to compete with other applications - for example microwave ovens. Of course they try not to emit any radiation, but if you have 600W inside the box, you are bound to leak a few uW.

      • only UNII-1 and UNII-3...no UNII-2

        In other words, they are using the spectrum that people actually want since UNII-2 has limits regarding power and avoiding interference with radar.

    • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:01PM (#50672055)
      Bandwidth is perhaps the most poorly utilized resource. There is tons of spectrum, the vast majority of it locked up for historical reasons. 2.4GHz has been so incredibly useful to humanity. We could do even more with wireless if most of the spectrum wasn't locked up. I work with some ISM and people are generally limited to 151MHz / 433MHz / 915MHz / 2.4GHz in the US with the other frequencies used for special applications and in some cases only certain companies. To make the future better you have to sometimes break from the past and frequency allocation is an excellent example of this.
      • by kuhnto ( 1904624 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:56PM (#50672585)
        To emphasize what the previous poster stated, it is nice to get a good visual of how our spectrum is diced up and see who has the big chunks...

        I present "The US Frequency Allocation Table -> https://upload.wikimedia.org/w... [wikimedia.org]
    • The reason we use 2.4GHz is because we're cheap. We've known of problems with it for years, with cordless phone makers making 2.4GHz phones, and with even the most well shielded Microwave oven causing interference. But we continue to use it because early 802.11a gear was expensive, and because "advanced" equipment like 802.11a repeaters was priced for corporate purchasing, when they cost $10 or so a unit to make.

      Even after this, we still have 900MHz and 5GHz free and clear. Personally, I think the 5GHz W

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      Except this is for the U-NII 1 and 3 bands in the 5Ghz spectrum. Channels 52 - 140 should be untouched.
    • by jaa101 ( 627731 )

      The 2.4 Ghz spectrum was opened up for general use because it has relatively poor long distance characteristics thanks to it being absorbed strongly by water

      Note that 2.4GHz is absorbed pretty much the same as 2.1GHz, 2.2GHz, 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz, 2.6GHz, ... There are no blips or surprises if you plot it out. The 2.4GHz ISM band appears to have been chosen just because some experimenters had built heating equipment that happened to use that frequency.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      The 2.4 Ghz spectrum was opened up for general use because it has relatively poor long distance characteristics thanks to it being absorbed strongly by water.

      Interesting mention, and why microwave ovens use 2450MHz, water absorption helps keep RF signal local.

      This lead to an explosion of use in the band where your average apartment building has dozens of devices competing for the spectrum.

      Back in the days when ships were wood and men were steel, frequencies were allocated to business and public safety 2-way radios, broadcast radio, television, microwave backhaul, amateur radio, military, aviation, navigation, boaters, etc. But 2.4GHz was good for heating food as H2O molecule absorbs that freq. As these ovens are "noisy" FCC figured this will be good for general ISM devices. Then along comes

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:07PM (#50671529)

    killing wifi with high cost low cap cell is good for the carriers and bad for the uses.

    Also just wait for the Mexico towers near the board to up there power as they rake in the roaming that goes as high as $20 a meg.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ClickOnThis ( 137803 )

      Also just wait for the Mexico towers near the board to up there power as they rake in the roaming that goes as high as $20 a meg.

      I doubt it. Use of electromagnetic spectrum near borders is regulated by treaties. Also, the unlicensed use of WiFi frequencies comes with a condition: you must keep your power output below a certain level.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Hmm just driving on the i8 from San Diego CA to Phoenix AZ has me connecting to mexico towers. I get a text welcoming me to Mexico from T-Mobile. I have roaming data turned off so I haven't tested the data prices - nor will I risk it.

        • I'm not saying you won't pick up Mexico towers or be unable to use them. Of course you can. I'm just saying Mexico can't unilaterally boost their power, contrary to what the OP was suggesting.

        • Depending on your T-Mobile plan, it might not cost you anything - their current plans include 2g roaming in several countries at no extra cost, and you can't roam above 2g unless you sign up for a paid plan that gives an allowance of faster roaming data.

    • by Sherif Hanna ( 4285701 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:04PM (#50672101)
      LTE-U is not transmitted by big cell towers. It's a "small cell" technology - i.e. it is transmitted from small boxes that are no bigger than a Wi-Fi access point, and transmit radio waves at the same output power as Wi-Fi access points.
  • Spectrum Grab (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:09PM (#50671539)

    This is just a spectrum grab by the telcos. The key thing about this technology is that it requires a small control channel in the frequency range "owned" by the telco, but blasts all sorts of data over the unlicensed 5GHz spectrum.

    It would be one thing if the entire connection was done in the unlicensed spectrum, so anyone could set up an LTE network (like wi-max), but to require licensed spectrum just to require it should not be allowed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There should be a quid pro quo rule: If you use a particular frequency band, then anybody who is allowed to use that band is also allowed to use all bands that are licensed to you. If the telcos want us to stay of their licensed bands, then they need to stay out of the bands that we are allowed to use.

  • Overrun (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:15PM (#50671605) Journal

    Do wifi routers have their own spectrum? Perhaps there should be a set-aside just for short range, get-along-nicely protocols.

    The clogging varies with the square of the range. It is stupid to allow a handful of transmissions to clog up a million houses in a city.

    Alternatively, disallow telcos from charging for data sent over this spectrum. There you go!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Or we could just beam signals at your towers, using thousands of transmitters known as wi-fi devices, forcing you to stop being a jerk.

    • In the old days of pre-WiFi home networking, there used to be a scheme referred to as HPNA, or Home Phone Line Networking where it would carve holes in the frequencies it used on your phone wiring so as to not interrupt analog modems, regular phone calls, or DSL service.

      Why do I have a feeling that our friendly telcos won't bother with such good-neighbor approaches to this technology?

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:15PM (#50671607)
    Holy crap. This is completely disproved cable company funded research. Basically the cable companies are not only seeing cord cutting in the realm of people cutting their TV cables but also now many people are going with tablets and phone only internet connections and are cutting their local wi-fi/cable internet connection. This is a disaster for the cable companies.

    So they are doing their damnedest to keep the wireless companies from being able to use the bandwidth that is becoming available as various old technologies such as analog broadcast TV frees up more and more of the spectrum.

    On top of that any new frequency opened up to wireless will often then be used by the newest and best data technologies so a given bit of spectrum used in 4G will of course pack in way more data than a 3G spectrum of the same "size" and 5G will probably pack in just that much more into anything that newly opens up for it.

    Eventually the 2G spectrum will be retired for use for maybe 6G sort of stuff but it is the new spectrums now that are used for the newest and best data streaming.

    If you look at a graph of the spectrum opening up, combined with existing spectrum being re-purposed, combined with the ability to not only send data down that spectrum, but cool things like phased array antennas that can basically laser the data directly at a customer that graph will actually show that the typical netflixing customer could potentially go entirely wireless in not that many years.

    This basically takes the whole "last mile" concept out and shoots it in the face. Then the last-mile turns into the-last-pile-of-expensive-crap.

    Yes there will be some customers who need such absurd amounts of bandwidth that wireless really won't be it but for the average person watching netflix; they really will hit a limit where they then only slowly increase their demands.

    So again I cry a little bit for slashdot to see this sort of corporate shilling happening again.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am an "average consumer" and if I am affected by this then it isn't corporate shilling. Just because cable companies might have a position against this doesn't mean it doesn't also hurt consumers. *Right now* I use Wi-Fi and I care about my data throughput *right now* not in some hypothetical world that might exist 10 years in the future.

      You sound like the shill.

      • But the independent evidence shows that there is no problem. They are trying to convince the public that their Wi-fi will be imperilled by the evil telcos. When one large group of companies are battling with another group of large companies their lobbying suddenly cancels out and they have to turn to the voter.
        • That's false, I've seen the tests, ie I've been there in person and while there are some worst case assumptions the testing that CableLabs did is completely valid and accurate. The notion that LTE isn't commonly running at full duty cycles is simply false for many/most urban and suburban towers.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:40PM (#50671853) Homepage

      now many people are going with tablets and phone only internet connections and are cutting their local wi-fi/cable internet connection.

      Do you have anything to support this claim? I know numerous people that have cut the cord regarding cable tv but kept internet, but no one that has dropped their traditional broadband for only wireless. The only two people I know that have cellular-only internet live out in the sticks where traditional broadband doesn't extend to and there is no other practical alternatives.

      • I can point to my family. We moved to a location where nearly unlimited wireless is not a terrible price. There is no need beyond me, the software developer, to have a huge connection. If I had genuinely unlimited LTE or better then I would switch in a heartbeat. I am a pretty demanding data user so if I could cut then few couldn't.

        If my siblings lived where I live then I would have helped them all cut their internet by now. My mother has netflix but barely even uses that. I think her monthly data usage
      • Everyone I know, even the cheap types, keeps some kind of wired Internet. It is usually faster than wireless and always cheaper per GB. If you were an EXTREMELY light user I suppose you could go all wireless all the time, but even for the casual user who likes to surf the web on a daily basis and watch cat videos, you'll easily use more data than a wireless provider is interested in letting you have cheap and they'll charge and/or throttle.

        Simple example: T-Mobile gives me phone, text, and 1GB of data for $

  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:33PM (#50671785)
    Whoever in the FCC is allowing this to happen needs to step up and kill it. Pitting LTE-U against standard WiFi, and it being a commercial service, should be unthinkable.

    I think it is time for amateurs (hams) to step up and develop more 2.4GHz applications for networking. It would be an interesting side-effect if those apps happened to destroy LTE-U performance at the same time. As TFA points out, the "fairness" algorithm is at the discretion of the user, not mandated by law, so the carriers would have no problem if the hams develop a system that is fair to them but screws the carriers, right?

    Who has links into Meshnet, and can you get them doing that? I'll happily devote a couple of old Linksys routers to Meshnet for the right cause.

    • Pitting LTE-U against standard WiFi, and it being a commercial service, should be unthinkable.

      Unlicensed spectrum is already used by many entities for commercial services. For example, every hotel or airport that charges money for Wi-Fi is using unlicensed spectrum for commercial, for-profit services. Boingo and other Wi-Fi ISPs use Wi-Fi on unlicensed spectrum for commercial services. Cable companies setting up Wi-Fi access points (e.g. the nationwide CableWiFi network) are using unlicensed spectrum for commercial services. But it doesn't just stop at Wi-Fi. Utilities use the unlicensed 2.4GHz ba

      • Unlicensed spectrum is already used by many entities for commercial services.

        "And" is a conjunction that means both clauses apply.

        All those "commercial services" you trot out as excuses for allowing LTE-U to use the same bandwidth are different in one very significant way: they ALL obey the Part 15 rules for the use of the spectrum. Those cable modem WiFi hotspots that are popping up don't have 100' towers and special high-power transmitters. Those Zigbee etc. systems for power monitoring etc. play well with others.

        The other commercial difference is that those systems you talk a

  • All the infrastructure devices in my network (this include the entertainment centers) are all hard-wired. WiFi is just too susceptible to interference beyond my control. I've seen my WiFi speeds vary over a range of 10-to-1 within the period of an hour because of the interference originating beyond my abode.

    .
    If the wireless carriers want to continue to suck up public bandwidth, I think they should at least stick to their promises of deploying fiber where they said they would (Verizon, can you hear me n

  • by Anonymous Coward

    With the low EIRP limits in the 2.4GHz ISM band, they would have to get really close, and deploy millions of transmitters. How do they plan to do that?

  • Hi everyone, Since the article was one-sided and didn't ask for comments from Qualcomm, I thought I would offer everyone a chance to ask me question regarding LTE-U. Please go ahead. Regards, Sherif
    • How the hell do I deploy this in my home without breaking wifi and without issuing my own SIM?

      • It is not intended to be deployed by users. It's intended to be deployed by mobile network operators in high congestions areas only. It is not a wide coverage technology, and it is not broadcast from cell towers.
        • So you're saying it's an ITU/3GPP/esqu spec for a protocol and I'm not allowed to deploy it in an unlicensed band, but carriers who already have exclusive access to licensed spectrum are?

          Could you explain how the LTE frame structure is compatible with part 15? I don't quite see it.

    • Ok, I'll bite. Regardless of duty cycling, and/or other forms of "mitigation" I fail to see how occupying the same frequencies as our Wi-Fi routers can do anything other than steal capacity. Further it is reported that LTE-U is more aggressive than Wi-Fi at grabbing open air time--shorter backoff period--meaning that where there is contention, it won't even play fair. In locations with already high-contention--like apartments, this sounds like a very unpalatable cocktail, enough to make Wi-Fi so slow as
      • Regardless of duty cycling, and/or other forms of "mitigation" I fail to see how occupying the same frequencies as our Wi-Fi routers can do anything other than steal capacity.

        You are right - occupying the same frequency as an incumbent Wi-Fi router would reduce its throughput. No one is saying otherwise. But that would be true if you were adding another Wi-Fi access point, or any other radiator on the same frequency. The question becomes: for those operators that want to use unlicensed spectrum to increase the capacity of their networks, should they use Wi-Fi, or should they use LTE-U? Does LTE-U have any more of an impact on incumbent Wi-Fi than adding Wi-Fi instead?

        The answer

  • arent all these devices allowed under the condition they cannot interfere in such a way?
  • that this is an attempt to kill wifi and have LTE take over so you must use carrier moderated sessions for all you communications along with crap crypto.

  • Now they'll be able to legally jam cell phones. They'll just offer in theater WiFi with movie special features like alternative content.
  • I don't know about y'all, but I manage twenty-some office networks at a real-estate company. If LTE-U was rolled out, I'm pretty sure it would make my life hell. I have enough wifi issues to deal with as-is.
  • Wifi has sucked anywhere except maybe in the sticks ever since it became popular anyway. Sure, I used to love it as much as anybody. These days it drops or crawls 9 times out of 10 at my home and isn't much better in the homes of many of my family and friends, scattered across various cities. There is just too much interference already!

    Suck it up kids... string some wire. Ethernet still rocks!

    I only use wifi for handheld portable devices. But... the only such device that I use with any frequency is my pho

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