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Qualcomm latest chipset allows carriers to sponge off WiFi spectrum

LTE can be quite hard to find in some areas, forcing carriers to revert back to 3G networks. Qualcomm wants to change the potential options for spectrum on its new family of chips, by allowing automatic connection to local WiFi.

Qualcomm claims the new chip could double the amount of available spectrum for a typical user, and since it is taking 5GHz band it should be fast and reliable.

It uses a new technique called Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) to take advantage of the large amounts of unused WiFi spectrum. Qualcomm confirms this should not harm WiFi speeds when the mobile connects.

Verizon Wireless, SK Telecom and T-Mobile USA have already been looking into offering the LAA service, but no 4G LTE provider has been able to integrate the technique into its chipsets, until now.

Qualcomm will show off the new technology at Mobile World Congress alongside other smartphone and carrier organisations. The WiFi Alliance is unhappy with this move, due to the potential bandwidth hogging that could harm people wanting to use the WiFi.

This technique is different to public WiFi that is readily available and owned by the carrier or organisation, instead LAA is scouting the area for available WiFi and will automatically plug the user into the service, if the user does not have 4G or 3G connection.

Qualcomm claims the mobile will still be primarily tethered to a 4G connection, meaning carriers cannot set the chipset to try and find WiFi to sit on, removing the amount of network usage.

There have been plenty of WiFi projects over the past few years, including Google’s launch of public WiFi in hundreds of parks and different carriers launching ‘hotspots’ at airports and other public areas, however LAA might take this over the top by connecting to any WiFi in the available area.

The idea still needs to be approved and regulated by the UK and Japanese government, but in the US and South Korea it is ready to launch in the second-half of 2015.

David Curry
David Curry

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.