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AT&T, Verizon Get Their Wish: FCC Opens Up 5G Airwaves

16 July 2016
AT&T, Verizon Get Their Wish: FCC Opens Up 5G Airwaves

"Policymakers and mobile phone companies have said the next generation of wireless signals needs to be much faster and far more responsive to allow advanced technologies like virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely".

"I do believe that this is one of, if not the most important decision this agency will make this year", Wheeler said before the vote. "Today's vote by the FCC to make high band spectrum available for 5G was a clear victory for Americans' mobile-first lives", said CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, in a statement.

The 5-0 vote frees 3.85GHz of licensed spectrum and 7GHz of unlicensed spectrum for mobile and fixed-use wireless broadband, a move first proposed last month by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The Federal Communications Commission today approved a plan to open up almost 11GHz of high-frequency spectrum for next-generation 5G networks. Both the 5G plans laid out by the FCC and EchoStar's infrastructure use some of the same spectrum. The new rules must be implemented in ways that deliver on the FCC's promise of a flexible approach, and we must continue to find new and creative ways to address our insatiable demand for more bandwidth. "It's like an elevator going from the fifth floor to the thirty-fifth floor with 5G". The public should be allowed to use spectrum that carriers are warehousing right up to the time a carrier deploys actual services (4G, 5G or otherwise). By 2020, are expected the first commercial deployments at scale.

The move follows the emergence earlier this year of bi-partisan Senate legislation aimed at getting the private sector to work with government to plan Internet of Things policy, and urging the FCC to determine spectrum support. While 5G technologies are still under development, today's action by the Commission to put rules in place will provide vital clarity for business investment in this area.

"The FCC's order is extremely shortsighted".

During an open meeting, commissioners unanimously passed the Spectrum Frontier proposal, giving agencies and companies new access to higher frequencies of the "spectrum band" - resulting in a more efficient network. It's an interesting strategy, given that mmW 5G applications and services, let alone the new radio access technology and core network support, won't become commercially available until after 2020.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation agreed.

The president of wireless trade group CTIA, Meredith Attwell Baker, echoed that sentiment, and said that the competitive advantage of the FCC's move can not be overemphasized. Worldwide spectrum harmonization can help wireless carriers and their suppliers achieve economies of scale. The rules adopted also create a new Upper Microwave Flexible Use service in the 28 GHz (27.5-28.35 GHz), 37 GHz (37-38.6 GHz), and 39 GHz (38.6-40 GHz) bands, and a new unlicensed band at 64-71 GHz. Though the FCC hasn't punished the carriers, it has taken a few steps to help customers through the transition away from copper landlines.