NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Keeping Bullies Out of Unlicensed Spectrum

Keeping Bullies Out of Unlicensed Spectrum


We’ve all come to love Wi-Fi because it’s so easy to access, so easy to use, and so widely available. But thanks to a new technology called LTE-U, this could change.

The unlicensed spectrum that Wi-Fi uses works so well because Wi-Fi and all of the other technologies utilizing it (think garage door openers and baby monitors) all follow politeness rules. They listen out for each other’s signals and take steps to avoid interference. These rules aren’t set in stone – they’re generally agreed upon because everything works better when everyone cooperates.

But LTE-U, which also relies on unlicensed spectrum, doesn’t want to follow these rules. LTE-U thinks it can bully technologies using unlicensed spectrum and prioritize itself over others. In doing so, LTE-U puts all unlicensed technologies at risk and could make Wi-Fi slower, less reliable, and less available.

Learn about spectrum bullies like LTE-U below. And for more, go to