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Facebook lobbies FCC for 5G spectrum sharing

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Following the FCC’s announcement over 5G spectrum allocation proposals, Facebook has written a filing requesting an open and share-based spectrum policy.

Facebook’s wireless intentions have been made sufficiently clear in recent months following the announcement of its Terragraph Infrsatrcuture Project (TIP) in which it has been developing a wireless mesh network capable of providing connectivity in the >28 GHz millimetre wave bands.

28, 37 and 39 GHz spectrum bands are being targeted by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler as it plans on setting concrete guidelines for 5G spectrum use. US carriers including Sprint and AT&T have already begun developing trial 5G use cases in these bands, and Facebook has lobbied for the FCC to oppose closing out specific blocks of spectrum for carrier trials for at least 10 years, according to its filing. It has stated these bands are prime frequencies for the coexistence of satellite earth stations without harm to new mobile deployments in millimetre bands.

In its statement, it said that “By promoting sharing among satellite, HAPS, and other uses, in some portions of the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, and 39 GHz bands with mobile services, the Commission will enhance connectivity in the United States and set an example for the rest of the world.”

Facebook has suggested that the commission needs to establish sharing practises for unlicensed, millimetre wave spectrum bands, and that it needs to keep spectrum in constant use as “Around the world, licensed spectrum resources are often significantly underutilised in lower population density areas. Yet, this spectrum remains unavailable to others due to delayed buildout and weak license buildout requirements.”

Its suggestion that spectrum remains underutilised overlooks the fact that a high amount of spectrum owned by operators exists as a means of ensuring bandwidth during unprecedented levels of demand. While it is possible that spectrum remains untouched for vast periods of time at present, the business continuity aspects of mobile broadband  could be undermined and put at risk if a share-it-or-lose-it policy is enforced for 5G, especially when it is largely impossible to know what future traffic loads will look like when 5G finally comes around.

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One comment

  1. Claus Hetting 24/06/2016 @ 2:51 pm

    Facebook is right about sharing. But here’s the most important point:
    Spectrum sharing (in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) is creating $140-$200 billion of economic surplus a year in the US alone. Wi-Fi is in fact the best example of the vast economic value of spectrum sharing.
    The second point is simply this: Spectrum sharing works. Wi-Fi has proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
    Now – the reason why carriers don’t like that of course is because spectrum sharing is a huge threat to carrier businesses including any prospective 5G business out there.
    So-called ‘5G’ is a great opportunity to move on from archaic schemes for exclusive licensing. We have the technology to do it, and now is the time. Sharing in any band would mean exactly the same as what it has meant for Wi-Fi: More innovation, lower prices, massive economic value. Regulators should care more about socio-economic value creation and less about what carriers do and do not want.
    It’s time for a change. Well done to Facebook for pushing it.

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