US Interest Grows in 3.5GHz Wireless Broadband

Major US mobile operators are gearing up to test the possibilities for 3.5GHz wireless broadband services in the coming months.

T-Mobile US Inc. applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for an experimental radio license to test 3.5GHz equipment in Washington State. The transmit power ranges listed in the license request suggest that the uncarrier is testing indoor applications.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), meanwhile, was awarded a license to test a 3.5GHz network in March. The propagation tests will take place in California's Central Valley, including locations in Kern, Fresno, Merced, Tulare, Kings, and San Joaquin counties."

"The testing will involve transmissions between fixed stations and mobile stations operating within a 20-kilometer radius of the fixed stations, allowing for an evaluation of path loss characteristics in real-world outdoor environments," AT&T notes in the license details.

Want to know more about wireless brodband? Check out our dedicated channel
here on Light Reading.

This appears more ambitious than much of the talk around 3.5GHz so far, which has centered around short-range unlicensed LTE-based small cell applications. (See Tech Giants Team Up on 3.5GHz Initiative.)

Light Reading has asked AT&T and T-Mobile for more details on the tests. We'll update if significant new details emerge.

Major mobile operators are not the only ones interested in how to use the 150MHz of CBRS (Citizens Radio Broadband Service) spectrum opened up by the FCC.

Potential alt-operator Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is already testing 3.5GHz technology in the US. The spring and summer of 2017 could see more interested parties get their test licenses on.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 4/6/2017 | 4:34:17 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC Interesting, thanks!
mendyk 4/6/2017 | 9:55:26 AM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC Webscale companies have the incentive and the opportunity to focus on improving network infrastructure via initiatives like Espresso. As you say, this allows them to be enablers in that they can set the objectives for operators. The attraction of venturing into end-user connectivity is less apparent, although a case can be made for this when you start thinking about neural networks.
Gabriel Brown 4/6/2017 | 5:57:58 AM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC you can find lots of reasons to do something else.

I think that's it -- why dabble as a network operator when you could be designing AI bots?

My guess is Google will aim to be some kind of "enabler" for other companies to deploy and operate wireless access networks using CBRS bands. Similar to how Facebook is developing / specifying mobile network designs for someone else to run. 

More broadly, Google is definitely not out of the service provider networking business. For example, the Espresso SDN Mitch wrote about here:


And the Google blog here:

mendyk 4/5/2017 | 4:48:05 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC Red tape, bribery, corruption, instability -- a lot of issues. Add in a less than solid economic underpinning, and you can find lots of reasons to do something else.
brooks7 4/5/2017 | 4:41:53 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC  

No Dennis, there is a lot of bribery in the bush.  Just remember to show up with bags of cash and you can get anything done quickly.


mendyk 4/5/2017 | 4:28:07 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC To steal a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, There's a lot of red tape in the bush.
brooks7 4/5/2017 | 4:23:33 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC  

Google has experimented in many, many markets.  It does not keep all these initiatives around.  I think the US base of Google Fiber has turned out to be problematic.  I think Google thought that the population that it could serve would fall on their knees and demand that their local politicians to allow Google to do whatever they want.  What I think we have all found is that the actual service is delivering to the bulk of users meets their technical needs (we can argue about price, but about 98% of the US can watch Netflix). 

My suspicion is that this will play much better in the 3rd World.  Where Google comes in and say runs a National ISP for a country.  They can use Drones, Balloons, Fiber, Fixed Wireless and Mobile Networks.  They do it based on advertising so the cost will be very low and should get high adoption by users.



mendyk 4/5/2017 | 1:30:51 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC The economic case is probably better, but the bigger question is whether Google has the interest in being a broadband service provider at all. Considering how much money it makes from other, less frustrating ventures, it's hard to see competitive broadband service as a priority there.
Gabriel Brown 4/5/2017 | 12:36:34 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC The Google Fiber business seems to be at the whim of top management.

I wonder if wireless changes the economics of last mile connectivity enough for it to have another go? That was implied by the Webpass acquisition. 
mendyk 4/5/2017 | 12:22:55 PM
Re: Google Fiber testing in KC It would be surprising if Google decides to stick with being a broadband service provider given what's happened so far.
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