US Interest Grows in 3.5GHz Wireless Broadband

Dan Jones
News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

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.

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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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