An FCC Commissioner is expecting the agency's plan for four initial 5G bands to be ready within weeks and is already planning to find high-band spectrum that operators can exploit for next-generation wireless services.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's Michael O'Rielly, speaking at the "Broadband For All" seminar in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, says he expects that rules for four 5G bands will be adopted initially but that more are likely to follow. The FCC is due to vote on opening up the millimeter wave (mmWave) for gigabit-speed 5G services on July 14.
"If all goes according to plan, the Commission will adopt rules allowing wireless use in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands on a licensed basis and 64 to 71 GHz band for unlicensed within the next few weeks," O'Rielly told the crowd at the Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) event.
These are among the centimeter and millimeter wave bands that the FCC has been examining for future mobile broadband use. mmWave (30GHz to 300Ghz) is widely expected to be one of the building blocks of 5G, which could be 100 times faster than today's 4G networks.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, meanwhile, has already alluded to the creation of a "massive" 14 GHz unlicensed band in previous comments. The FCC is also expecting operators deploying 5G to use channels of up to 200 MHz for licensed services.
This means that more high-band radio waves will need to be opened up, according to the government man: "Although we started with these four spectrum blocks, more work needs to be done to find high-band spectrum," He said. Experts predict that the four targeted bands will be insufficient to address future wireless industry needs, and we need to start the process of identifying more frequencies now."
Work to look at additional frequencies will start this month, in fact.
That doesn't mean that opening up the four bands initially targeted is bound to be smooth sailing for the FCC. The Commission has already spoken to satellite providers and others that use the mmWave bands, although O'Rielly is hopeful for a speedy transition, he said.
"While each and every detail may not be flushed out and further comment may be necessary on some issues, it appears that we are headed in the right direction and that these bands will soon be available for wireless use," he told the event.
O'Rielly also said he was disappointed that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) hadn't pushed harder for global spectrum harmonization at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in 2015 but that the US and others are "not able to wait." (See FCC's Rosenworcel Urges US to 'Go It Alone' With 28GHz for 5G.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading