EVOLVE Member on a Path Forward in the Wi-Fi / LTE Unlicensed Debate

November 13, 2015

Yesterday, AT&T Vice President of Federal Regulatory Joan Marsh spoke out on how new technologies like LTE Unlicensed can co-exist with Wi-Fi in existing and new bands of unlicensed spectrum.  In a post on the EVOLVE member’s public policy blog, Marsh said:

Unlicensed spectrum – which has been called the sandbox for entrepreneurship and innovation – plays an increasingly important role in our mobile and interconnected world.  Unlike licensed spectrum, which comes with high costs and significant regulatory burdens, unlicensed spectrum has long held out the promise of permission-free access with minimal regulatory oversight – an approach that facilitates experimentation and innovation by all and for the benefit of all.  To renege on that promise would be to undermine the core thesis of the unlicensed success story to date. […]

[The] answer to the Wi-Fi / LTE unlicensed debate should not be in new rules or regulations around the use of unlicensed bands – the very existence of which would redefine the unlicensed experience to the detriment of innovators and users.  The answer instead should be found in the FCC’s existing authority to protect wireless services authorized by the 1996 Telecommunications Act from interference that is intentional or malicious. […]

If this country is to take the fullest advantage of the new unlicensed bands being brought forward for shared use, technologies beyond those discussed here will no doubt emerge that will also seek to share the unlicensed commons.  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.

As EVOLVE has said before, it is important for all participants and technologies in the unlicensed space to coexist and play well together.  The combination of the unlicensed policy framework and permission-less innovation have been a resounding success, producing a continuously evolving stream of technologies, devices, apps, products, and services that enhance the consumer experience.  EVOLVE hopes to see this success continue for years to come.

Read the full post on AT&T’s Public Policy Blog here.

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