The article has been accepted for publication in IEEE Access.


The 2.4 GHz spectrum is home to several Radio Access Technologies (RATs), including ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Wi-Fi. Accordingly, the technologies’ spectrum-sharing qualities have been extensively studied in literature. License-Assisted Access (LAA) Listen-Before-Talk (LBT) has been identified in technical reports as the foundation for the channel access mechanism for 5G New Radio-Unlicensed (NR-U) operating in the 2.4 GHz Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band. The introduction of NR-U into this band raises new concerns regarding coexistence of the newcomer with traditional incumbents. This article reports an investigation of BLE 5 and cellular LBT coexisting systems by means of empirical evaluation. The importance of this study stems from that the studied LBT mechanism is indicative of how 5G NR-U would perform in the 2.4 GHz band. Tests were performed in conformity with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C63.27 standard for evaluation of wireless coexistence, and results were reported in terms of throughput and interframe delays. In accordance with the standard and under different BLE physical layers (PHYs) and LBT priority classes, three setups were investigated. These pertain to the three tiers of evaluation, which correspond to the criticality of the device under test. Results demonstrated how BLE throughput dropped as the intended-to-unintended signal ratio decreased, and LBT classes exhibited a diminishing effect as the class priority descended. Long Range BLE PHY was found to sustain longer gap times (i.e., delay) than the other two PHYs; however, it showed less susceptibility to interference. Results also demonstrated that low data rate BLE PHYs hindered the LBT throughput performance since they correspond to longer airtime durations.