Feature Article

June 07, 2012

Qualcomm to FCC: 'Thanks But No Thanks - We've Solved the LTE Spectrum Problem with New Hardware'

With the increasing number of smartphones and tablets comes a need to push tons of data over wireless networks, and a subsequent need for LTE. But the problem with wireless is that there’s only so much spectrum available to mobile network operators.

Agencies like the U.S. Federal Communications Commission attempt to divvy up frequencies fairly and prevent interference. Qualcomm, however, disagrees with the FCC's decision to require interoperability with LTE networks in the Lower 700 Mhz spectrum – what other mobile operators such as AT&T use.

Qualcomm is working on its own technological solution to sharing bandwidth. Interoperability, they said, would seriously degrade network performance for devices.

The problem lies with the unpaired D and E blocks of the wireless spectrum and with the TV channel 51. After conducting what the company says is extensive testing, Qualcomm told the FCC they discovered that stations in the E-block would cause destructive interference in the B and C blocks AT&T use, which would make getting signals to and from the towers impossible.

Use of the A block could be possible, but that part of the spectrum has no safeguards against E block interference. Furthermore, since Channel 51 is right next to the spectrum, the FCC expressly forbids using it, as catastrophic interference can occur. This will become less of an issue in the future, as the FCC plans to phase out Channel 51.

Instead, the mobile equipment manufacturer is developing its own hardware solution: the WTR1605L transceiver. The transceiver supports three sub-1000 Mhz bands and three bands over 1000 Mhz, as well as a “very high frequency” band. It is compatible with Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 and supports spectrum used by Sprint and Verizon spectrum as well.

Qualcomm is preparing to send the transceivers to manufacturers next month, with devices using it becoming available by the end of the year.

Since Qualcomm believes it has solved the spectrum problem, the FCC does not need to deal with it.

Edited by Braden Becker

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