FCC's Rosenworcel Urges US to 'Go It Alone' With 28GHz for 5G

An FCC Commissioner is pushing to open up a new 5G radio frequency in the US by the end of 2016, as AT&T gears up to use the spectrum as part of its tests of the next-generation mobile technology this year.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel in a speech in Washington, D.C. last week, pushed for the US to move ahead fast with allowing carriers to use 28GHz radio spectrum in order to be first in "the race to 5G." AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has already applied to the agency for an experimental radio license to start testing centimeter wave 28GHz this week. (See AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials and AT&T Wants to Start 5G Tests in Austin.)

For 5G, operators are expected look at much higher spectrum bands in order to have access to large swathes of spectrum. The FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has already been pushing for flexible use rules for bands above 24GHz, although opening up spectrum rules in the US can be a slow process. (See FCC Chair Wants to Take 5G Higher.)

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Rosenworcel took up the charge, suggesting that -- to stay in ahead in mobile -- the US has to push ahead with a framework for 28GHz usage, even if most of the rest of world isn't going to use that exact band.

"There are some places where when we look high, I believe the United States will need to go it alone," said Rosenworcel. "This includes the 28GHz band."

Rosenworcel isn't deterred by the fact that the 28GHz band hasn't been picked as a global band for 5G:

    Unfortunately, at the World Radio Conference in Geneva last year this band was left off the table. It was not included in the study list for 5G spectrum. But because this band has a global mobile allocation I think the United States should continue to explore this spectrum frontier. Tests in this band are already underway in South Korea and Japan. So I don't think this is the time to hold back. I think we need to move ahead -- on our own -- and have a framework in place for the 28GHz band by the end of the year.

Of course, these are just the comments of one commissioner at the FCC. She doesn't seem to be alone, however, in her desire to speedily open up spectrum for 5G.

"We can -- and must -- enable whatever is 'next' with new spectrum -- including spectrum to assure American leadership in 5G," said Chairman Tom Wheeler in a speech last Thursday to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Telecommunications Act at The Library of Congress in D.C.

The reason for FCC top brass speaking up is the perception that the US led in the transition to 4G but could lose ground as the world moves to 5G in the next decade. The first 5G specification is expected to be ready in 2018 but tests of radio technology are already coming to life.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

TV Monitor 2/15/2016 | 10:10:28 AM
Re: 28 GHz for 5G davishoffman5

"28 GHz is useful for what? Point to Point with solid dish antennas at each end?"

A direct LTE deployment replacement, at the reduced range of 1.4 miles radius per base station. In other word, 28 Ghz 5G base stations need to be deployed at a 2.8 mile interval between deployment sites to provide a continuous coverage.

"It cannot penetrate walls or foliage very well."

The 5G handset will have to fall back to LTE when in a poor reception area. But still, there are tons of outdoor places where the 28 Ghz 5G would work, even inside a car cruising on highway at 65 mph.

"Now they say they can use something like 28 GHz?"

It is not the cellular networks that's pushing the 28 Ghz band, it is FCC that's doing that, and they got convinced after visiting Samsung's Austin lab to witness that the 28 Ghz 5G did work in real life outdoor conditions. Samsung's goal is that the world press would do the same at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, where the journalists get to play with specially prepared 5G Galaxy loaner phones and write home how the 5G was here today, in their hands.
davidhoffman5 2/15/2016 | 8:25:10 AM
28 GHz for 5G 28 GHz is useful for what? Point to Point with solid dish antennas at each end? It cannot penetrate walls or foliage very well. The cellular companies took OTA TV frequencies because they needed penetration.  Now they say they can use something like 28 GHz?
DanJones 2/13/2016 | 2:40:24 PM
AT&T tests So we have an idea of what they could do with 3.5Ghz, 15Ghz, and 28Ghz, but use are the 4Ghz radio tests I wonder?
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