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Optical/IP Networks

Nextlink plugs the power of 6GHz for fixed wireless access

Nextlink Internet has been able to push gigabit-level speeds over fixed wireless access (FWA) in a limited fashion, but is now looking to scale up and expand that capability by tapping into fresh spectrum in the 6GHz band.

That band, already supported in the home in the Wi-Fi6E standard, is poised to become an important data conduit for FWA as the FCC works out some final details on how that band will accommodate both new and legacy users.

As the FCC irons out some of those details, Nextlink Internet has already conducted FWA tests in the 6GHz band using an experimental license. Nextlink's test showed that throughputs in excess of 1Gbit/s downstream and 500Mbit/s upstream were achievable via a 160MHz channel at a distance of two miles using access points from Cambium Networks powered by Qualcomm silicon.

Claude Aiken, the recently appointed chief strategy officer and chief legal officer of Nextlink Internet, recently joined the Light Reading podcast to discuss the trial in more detail, what's likely to come next, and to provide an update on the regulatory landscape for the 6GHz band for fixed wireless access.

Nextlink, which also provides fiber-based broadband services and participated in the CBRS auction, is "really taking an all-of-the-above approach to spectrum access," said Aiken, an industry vet who most recently served as the president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). "We want to be able to utilize this [6GHz spectrum], and put this in our toolkit as soon as possible … We're pretty bullish about what this spectrum means for high-speed, rural fixed wireless service."

FWA in the 6GHz band will use automated frequency coordination (AFC) to mitigate interference in the band with incumbent users. But Aiken contends that the implementation for the 6GHz band is "much simpler" than the complications that the industry had to overcome in the CBRS band.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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