Samsung to test 12.7GHz-13.25GHz band with an eye toward 6G

Samsung didn't mention 5G or 6G in its latest FCC filing but has made clear in past filings its vision of using the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band for 6G.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

September 8, 2023

3 Min Read
Image of someone holding a touch screen device with graphics on screen. 6G in the center circle with smaller circles connecting.
(Source: Kirill Ivanov/Alamy Stock Photo)

Samsung is asking for FCC permission to conduct tests in the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band, in a possible step toward its 6G ambitions.

Specifically, Samsung Research America filed documents with the FCC to test transmissions in the band near its offices in Plano, Texas. The company didn't mention 5G or 6G technologies but said it would "evaluate next-generation cellular equipment" that uses multi-user-multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology.

"The tests will have a single prototype base station and up to 32 mobile radios," the company wrote in its filing. "MU-MIMO operation enables several spatial streams to be used simultaneously to beamform to multiple users on the same time and frequency resources, increasing network capacity."

In other FCC documents, Samsung has made clear its vision of using the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band for 6G.

"Samsung fully agrees that the 12.7GHz band should be repurposed for mobile broadband and other expanded use," the company wrote in another recent FCC filing. "Initial study results indicate a significant increase in spectrum needs for 6G use cases such as XR [extended reality], holographic communications and joint communication and sensing."

Samsung added: "Based on assumptions and circumstances for wide area deployment it was found that 1GHz of spectrum per network is needed for each XR and holographic communication, and 300-750MHz bandwidth per network is required for joint communication and sensing. Taking into account the existing bands, the estimated additional wide-area spectrum needs per network could be 500-750MHz in the midband. The 12.7GHz will provide a key step forward in meeting this need."

The background

Samsung's request to conduct tests comes as no surprise. Indeed, the vendor outlined its interest in 6G roughly three years ago.

As Light Reading reported last year, Biden administration officials pegged the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band as a possible location for the agency's next big spectrum push. And in October of last year, the FCC voted to consider releasing up to 550 megahertz in the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz band for next-generation wireless services.

"The FCC expects that this inquiry is the first step in providing for more intensive use of the 12.7GHz band, unlocking a significant expanse of valuable mid-band frequencies that may play a key role in delivering on the promise of next-generation wireless services, including 5G, 6G, and beyond," the agency wrote at the time.

It's important to note that the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band is different from the 12.2GHz-12.7GHz band that sits at the center of a years-long policy battle among companies including Dish Network, RS Access and SpaceX's Starlink. The FCC voted against mobile operations in the 12.2GHz-12.7GHz band but left open the door to fixed wireless operations there.

Opposing views

Several top 5G providers have cheered the FCC's investigation into the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band. "T-Mobile applauds the commission's evaluation of the 12.7GHz band for potential alternative uses. The need for more spectrum by wireless service providers – including low-, mid-, and highband spectrum – is well-documented," T-Mobile wrote to the commission.

However, T-Mobile, Verizon and others urged the FCC to release the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz spectrum band via exclusive-use licenses. Their position runs counter to that of public interest groups like New America's Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, which urged the FCC to employ "use-it-or-share-it" conditions on the licenses.

The public interest groups speculated that "Big Mobile" carriers will primarily use the 12.7GHz-13.25GHz band to add capacity to existing cell sites in high-traffic areas. They asked the commission to release the spectrum in a way that other companies, like smaller wireless ISPs, could also use the band if others did not.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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