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In preparation for the C-RAN Working Group that I will be leading as part of RAN World conference in Cologne from September 29-30, I would like to ask you to fill in this survey.

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LTE unlicensed is clearly a hot topic these days – and one that often draws a strong emotional response. It was one of the key themes in London at the Small Cell World Summit in early June and at the Carrier Wi-Fi World Summit. The consultation from the FCC also attracted a wide set of contributions. 

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Mobile operators have to increase capacity to meet traffic loads that continue to grow. But they need to do so in a way that is cost efficient, that improves the performance and QoE, and to achieve this they also have to optimize their network performance using real-time data. 

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The interviews for the LTE unlicensed and Wi-Fi: moving beyond coexistence are now all available to watch here at RCR Wireless News

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China Mobile has been at the forefront of C-RAN deployments and has a compelling vision of the role of C-RAN in the evolution of mobile networks, culminating in 5G. We had an in-depth conversation with Chih-Lin I, Chief Scientist at China Mobile to talk about the present and future of C-RAN, in its multi-faceted implementations – centralized, collaborative, and cloud.

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Does the increase in efficiency justify the additional cost and complexity that LTE unlicensed deployments will require? We talked about these issues with Ziemowit Neyman, RAN Assistant Director, and Seppo Hämäläinen, RAN and SON Tools Assistant Director at Ooredoo, in Qatar. Like most operators, Ooredoo is closely watching what is happening in the LTE unlicensed space, and also exploring alternatives such as Wi-Fi, LWA, and TDD bands like the 3.5 GHz.

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In this paper, we explore how the growing differentiation in mobile traffic characteristics affects performance and QoE, and how this is driving a new approach to testing. Wireless testing has to assess network performance under a wide range of RAN and traffic scenarios to give mobile operators a realistic and complete view of what their networks can do and how they behave under stress. To achieve this goal, mobile traffic simulations have to systematically reproduce the variability of radio traffic composition expected in commercial deployments, in addition to the RAN conditions on which network testing has focused traditionally.

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Our latest report explores the opportunities that LTE unlicensed offers to mobile operators and how the technology can moving into the 5 GHz band where Wi-Fi dominates and has been an astounding success. Is the performance – and business case – of LTE unlicensed sufficiently better that mobile operators will be willing to roll out LTE unlicensed even though it will require new mobile devices? And what will the 5 GHz ecosystem, dominated by Wi-Fi users, enterprise, and service providers, will accept as fair coexistence from the LTE unlicensed proponents?

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Qualcomm Technologies (QTI) was one of the initial proponents of LTE unlicensed, along with vendors such as Ericsson and operators such as Verizon. LTE unlicensed fits well within QTI’ 1000x vision – preparing for a thousand-fold increase in mobile data usage. LTE-U complements parallel efforts to increase wireless capacity with small cells, shared access, and the multiple flavors of Wi Fi – residential, community, hotspot, enterprise, and carrier.

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Densification of the network infrastructure with small cells and Wi-Fi is one path that Alcatel-Lucent has pursued over recent years. With the newly announced Wireless Unified Networks, Alcatel-Lucent has moved two steps further, by adding what it calls Cellular Boost with LTE unlicensed, and adding Wi-Fi Boost by closely tying Wi-Fi and cellular transmission.

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