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Mobile & Wi-Fi: Finally playing nicely together?

By Claus Hetting   /     Mar 22, 2015  /     Uncategorized  /  

It used to be called ‘offload’ but today, ‘mobile/Wi-Fi convergence’ may be the best phrase to describe it. I’m a long time proponent of the idea (to quote CEO David Morken of Bandwidth) that ‘Wi-Fi is the bricks, and mobile is the mortar’. 

Now it seems and that mobile & Wi-Fi may finally be finding a way of coming together. Here’s a roundup of some of the new significant bits of technology that caught my eye at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week (and sorry for the acronym soup – so hard to avoid when writing about these things!):

LTE/Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA): This will feed your smartphone with data streams from both LTE & Wi-Fi at the same time for a big boost in speed & performance. Not only does this method not mess with unlicensed spectrum bands (like LTE-U/LAA) it can also be used when LTE & Wi-Fi network nodes are not collocated and it offers full mobility, too. This makes a lot of sense and it’s possibly the most intelligent convergence feature I’ve seen.

Qualcomm is testing this right now with Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung, & Korea Telecom. Here’s Qualcomm’s demo video. I’m guessing that it may still take a year or two before this technology will be fully commercialized. But when it does take off it, will certainly drive global carrier Wi-Fi uptake in a big way.

Meanwhile – not to be outdone – Alcatel-Lucent launched their bid for mobile/Wi-Fi convergence called ‘Wi-Fi boost’. The idea is to use Wi-Fi for download and 3G/LTE for upload to deliver more capacity & speed to consumers’ smartphones. ALU says that this is all done in software but that it does require OS changes on the device side. ALU’s solution is the network-side equivalent to Qualcomm’s LWA.

‘Wi-Fi boost’ is quite clever since you don’t have to deploy LTE small cells to do this and can simply continue to use existing macrocellular towers and whatever Wi-Fi you have control over. According to Engadget, TMo US is already scheming to use this (unfortunately, they’re also reportedly trialing ALUs LTE-U technology).

Lear more about all these great innovations in Wi-Fi and many more at the Wi-Fi Innovation Summit in San Francisco coming up on April 21-22Go to our website now to check our program and register. It will easily be the best Wi-Fi event of the year.

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