FCC Chairman Wheeler Looking at Higher Frequency Spectrum for 5G Services


While many service providers, manufacturers and wireless customers are focused on 4G technology and its much higher speed than 3G technology offers, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been looking at how the Commission can change its regulations to facilitate the next generation (5G) networks and services.

Manufacturers of wireless devices, such as Ericsson, tout 5G as a technology standard that will not only continue to increase speed for users, but will also allow for greater network intelligence to make services, including the “Internet of Things,” to be smarter and more user friendly.  One of the expected improvements is lower latency.  For the Internet of Things to be successful, many experts believe broad availability of 5G technology is needed throughout the world, including the United States.

With an eye toward the 2015 World Radio Conference (“WRC”), the Chairman said in a recent blog post, the Commission will be exploring higher-frequency bands for mobile 5G technology.  Wheeler urges the WRC to study as many as five bands between 27 and 71 GHz.  He also indicated the FCC will consider the same in a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will be released in 2015.  This will follow a 2014 Notice of Inquiry into the use of high-frequency bands for a variety of services, including mobile services.  The proposal to use higher-frequency spectrum is in addition to the expected use of the 600 MHz band for the deployment of 5G services.  That band is expected to be auctioned in the foreseeable future. 

The Chairman’s post included numerous other thoughts, including the need for flexible regulation, open-mindedness on the part of stakeholders, a possible sharing of the same spectrum by federal government and other users; and a willingness to collaborate by both domestic and international parties.  If they have not already done so, it behooves both manufacturers and service providers to begin investigating how they can operate on higher GHz bands and what FCC regulations would facilitate such operations. 

If you would like more information about the forthcoming WRC, the Notice of Inquiry or the expected 2016 auction of the 600 MHz band, please contact Robert Jackson 703-714-1316 or rhj@commlawgroup.com; Ronald Quirk 703-714-1305 or at req@commlawgroup.com; or Nathaniel Hardy at 703-714-1322 or njh@commlawgroup.com.

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