By 2020, Ericcson says that North American smartphone users will chew through 14 GB of data per month, up from just 2.4 GB right now. All that data will put a strain on cellular networks, which has led Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), and other carriers to look for new ways to offload some of that data demand. (NASDAQ:ERIC)
One option is to use unlicensed airwaves to send LTE signals. This would use airwaves typically reserved for garage door opener signals, baby monitors, and (most important) Wi-Fi signals. The technology is called LTE Unlicensed, or LTE-U, and it's causing a stir among some tech companies.
Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and others contend that LTE-U will disrupt current Wi-Fi signals, and degrade user experience on phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, and anything else connected to Wi-Fi.
Click on the slideshow below to learn about the opposing arguments, and why both sides have some legitimate points.