5G and Beyond

AT&T Proposes Amped-Up Power Levels for CBRS-Based 5G

AT&T has proposed increased power usage for a third category of 5G devices for use in the 3.5GHz Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS) band.

The company met with the FCC on Thursday, May 16, to see whether the company would allow for increased power levels for this new class of device. This would involve bumping the new category C devices power levels to 62 decibel milliwatts (dBm) over 10MHz.

Currently, there are category A devices (indoor small cells) delivering up to 30dBm over 10MHz. Category B devices (outdoor small cells) deliver up to 47dBm over 10MHz.

"That's still a bit smaller than 4G, but much better than millimeter wave 5G," Earl Lum, analyst with EJL Wireless Research, says of the proposed category C.

CBRS has taken a long time to get off the ground. It offers 150MHz of spectrum in unlicensed and licensed portions. 80MHz of unlicensed General Authorized Access (GAA) spectrum will be launched before the end of the year, although it had been expected to reach that stage before the end of 2018. 70MHz of spectrum in the CBRS band will be auctioned as Priority Access Licenses (PAL) in 2019 or 2020.

AT&T hasn't responded to questions about category C devices yet. We'll update the story when they do.

Lum says that more power in the CBRS band could alter T-Mobile's attitude regarding its proposed merger with Sprint. That's because T-Mobile might not need Sprint's 2.4GHz nationwide spectrum for 5G, if this new category of CBRS is put in place.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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