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GeoLinks to shift from 5GHz to 60GHz for fixed wireless

GeoLinks on Tuesday announced a new fixed wireless platform based on the DOCSIS 3.1 specification that runs in the 60GHz spectrum band that will be deployed across its footprint.

The move would shift GeoLinks off the 5GHz band it has primarily used across its ten years of operation. CEO Skyler Ditchfield said the 5GHz band is becoming increasingly crowded and that the company's new platform will support faster speeds and more reliable connections.

The question driving GeoLinks' shift is: "How do you deliver gigabit services at a reasonable price?" Ditchfield explained.

GeoLinks today counts around 8,000 enterprise customers, and around the same number of residential customers across primarily California and a handful of other states. The company, which primarily operates a fixed wireless Internet network spanning roughly 400 towers, has been working to expand its operations via acquisitions and government funding. For example, the company recently closed on its acquisition of fixed wireless infrastructure and spectrum licenses from TPx Communications (TPx), and it also won $234.9 million in the FCC's recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction for rural broadband services.

But Ditchfield explained that GeoLinks doesn't have the financial resources to purchase wide blocks of licensed spectrum (indeed, the FCC's ongoing auction of C-band spectrum licenses recently topped $80 billion in gross proceeds). In order to offer its customers 1 Gbit/s speeds, Ditchfield said the company decided to shift its operations from the cluttered 5GHz band and into the unlicensed 69GHz to 71GHz band (for downlinks) and 81GHz to 83GHz (for uplinks) for its deployments.

He said the company designed a platform for the band with vendor Globtel using the cable industry's DOCSIS 3.1 speciation, which he described as well suited for interference management. The result, Ditchfield said, is an offering dubbed GIGA-AIR that will be able to beam speedy connections to customers up to two miles away.

"We're excited about bringing that to the marketplace," he said, noting that the company will begin commercially deploying the technology in the coming months. He added that GeoLinks will also sell the platform to other rural operators, including cable operators that also may already have experience with DOCSIS.

GeoLinks' new offering underscores a growing interest in fixed wireless technologies, highlighted by expanding deployments from smaller companies like WeLink and bigger companies like T-Mobile and Verizon. However, the fixed wireless industry has also suffered a number of upheavals and setbacks: For example, Starry backtracked on some of its buildout goals, Common Networks transitioned its network in San Francisco's East Bay to Monkeybrains, and Vivint shuttered its Vivint Internet offering last year.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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