FCC anticipates major role for 600 MHz spectrum in 5G

Tom Wheeler, Chairman of US telecoms regulator the FCC, has offered an update on his views regarding 5G and spectrum.

Essentially Wheeler seems to be using a blog post to set the scene for the use of spectrum in the eventual 5G standard that are not currently a major part of 4G. He started by positing that 5G will enable the use of higher frequency bands than previously thought possible for mobile and emphasised that there needs to be industry wide flexibility for this to work – a possible reference to the current discussion surrounding LTE-U and fears it will interfere with wifi.

The FCC will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later this year that “will focus on developing a flexible regulatory framework that will allow maximum use of higher-frequency bands by a wide variety of providers, whether the service they provide is mobile, fixed, or satellite.”

Wheeler then moved on to the other end of the spectrum, literally, and specifically the 600 MHz band. This is mainly reallocated broadcast spectrum, that the broadcast industry isn’t necessarily happy about handing over, so again this blog post was probably designed to further the FCC agenda on this.

I foresee lower-frequency bands playing a role in 5G,” blogged Wheeler. “For example, the timing of the incentive auction makes the 600 MHz band a prime candidate for deployment of a wide-area 5G coverage layer. In much the same way that 700 MHz paved the way for America’s world-leading deployment of 4G, so could 600 MHz accelerate U.S. deployment of 5G.”

Wheeler concluded by pledging to take an active role in the global 5G standardization process and proposed the following specific high frequency bands for consideration: 27.5-29.5 GHz, 37-40.5 GHz, 47.2-50.2 GHz, 50.4-52.6 GHz, and 59.3-71 GHz.

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