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Could a 2016 deployment of LTE-U still be in the cards for Verizon? It’s possible.

A spokesman for the carrier on Thursday told Wireless Week Verizon is “pleased the Wi-Fi Alliance process has come to an end” and noted it is “eager to deploy LTE-U and bring the benefits of this new technology to our customers.”

Back in January at CES 2016, Qualcomm Vice President of Small Cells Neville Meijers told Wireless Week it was working with Verizon to make it the first carrier to commercially deploy LTE-U technology on its network. Though Verizon at the time declined to comment on its roll-out strategy, Meijers said Verizon was looking to launch the technology sometime in the second half of this year.

Over the summer, however, that timeline was thrown into doubt as the Wi-Fi Alliance delayed its release of the LTE-U Coexistence test plan from August to late September and Verizon, Qualcomm and others raised doubts about the merits of the test specifications.

The final plan, though, was released two days ago – and it seems like Verizon is ready to move.

Prior to releasing the plan, Wi-Fi Alliance Vice President of Marketing Kevin Robinson said at least one lab would be certified to begin testing immediately after the specification’s release. Robinson also said the timeline for testing completion would be measured on a scale of days rather than weeks or months. So if Verizon and Qualcomm have technologies at hand ready to be tested and certified, it’s possible things could get rolling rather quickly.

The EVOLVE Coalition – of which Verizon, Qualcomm and T-Mobile are members, among others – said Wednesday it is “reviewing the details of the Wi-Fi Alliance coexistence test plan.” The group said it is important to ensure “the details support a fair coexistence baseline and a clear path forward for LTE-U devices.” Verizon also said separately it is looking forward to reviewing the final details of the plan and is “pleased that the Wi-Fi Alliance has decided not to extend its test plan to other unlicensed technologies, such as LAA.”

“It is important that unlicensed spectrum remain an open platform for innovation,” Verizon’s spokesman said.

Part of Verizon’s eagerness to move forward with LTE-U could stem from some good old fashioned competition with T-Mobile, which has also previously announced its desire to roll out LTE-U technology as soon as possible.

Like Verizon, T-Mobile said it is currently reviewing the details of the Wi-Fi Alliance plan.

Though T-Mobile declined to specify an LTE-U launch date following the plan’s release, the Un-carrier’s Vice President of Government Affairs Steve Sharkey did day T-Mobile is “pleased to be moving forward toward putting this important new technology to work for the benefit of customers.” Sharkey, however, noted there is still “significant work to be done” to make LTE-U a commercial reality.

At an investor conference this week, though, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the Un-carrier is "becoming more confident with the opportunity to move into unlicensed LTE in the ’17 timeframe."

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