Facing opposition from consumer advocates and the cable industry over a new but controversial flavor of 4G LTE, T-Mobile, Verizon, Qualcomm and a handful of other companies will launch an industry coalition Monday in an effort to sway federal regulators in Washington's latest technology fight.
The coalition, Evolve, wants the Federal Communications Commission to avoid regulating LTE-Unlicensed, a new form of LTE that proponents claim will vastly improve consumers' mobile data speeds and coverage.
Qualcomm and Verizon are among LTE-U's leading developers, but the rest of the wireless industry is eager to adopt the technology. It promises to give wireless carriers more capacity as Americans turn increasingly to mobile devices for Internet browsing, streaming video and online games. Other founding members of Evolve are expected to include AT&T, the Competitive Carrier Association, which represents smaller telecom companies, and CTIA, the country's top wireless association.
Critics of LTE-U argue that the technology could compete with WiFi and other users of public airwaves, making it harder for wireless routers, Bluetooth headsets and garage door openers to function. The cable industry in particular fears that LTE-U could threaten its business model of offering wireless service through public WiFi hotspots.
Both the wireless industry and the cable industry have rolled out competing studies showing that LTE-U is, alternately, good for WiFi and a potential threat to WiFi.