The FCC has unanimously voted to open up four bands of high-band spectrum for 5G use, as well as pledging to open up more millimeter (mmWave) bands as soon as possible.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , as expected, voted to open up nearly 11GHz of spectrum -- 3.85GHz of licensed spectrum and 7GHz of unlicensed bandwidth -- for mobile and fixed-wireless 5G uses. As Light Reading previously reported in June, the new "Upper Microwave Flexible Use" bands are the licensed 28GHz; 37GHz; 39Ghz; and an unlicensed, public band between 64GHz and 71GHz.
The FCC says that this makes the "United States the first country in the world to make this spectrum available for next-generation wireless services."
5G is the next-generation wireless technology intended to deliver data-over-the air at speeds up to 100 times faster than today's 4G networks. This means that a full movie could be downloaded in mere seconds over the air. These mmWave upper bands are expected to be a crucial building block for 5G services. All of the major mobile operators in the US are undertaking mmWave trials this year, although Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is going to use its 2.5GHz for its planned initial 5G networks.
The surprise from Thursday's vote is that only 7GHz was opened up for the public band, which is still a huge chunk of spectrum, but less than the "massive" 14GHz channel that the FCC chairman was originally talking about.
Nonetheless, the FCC says it will move to open up more upper-band spectrum for 5G. The Commission adopted a "Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," which seeks to apply the flexible use service and technical rules adopted Thursday to another 18GHz of spectrum spread across eight additional high-frequency bands.
The Commission will also need to start looking into auction options for the initial three licensed 5G bands agreed on today.
For more on this topic, see:
- 5G in the Air: Crucial FCC Spectrum Vote Coming Thursday
- FCC to Vote on 5G Spectrum on July 14
- FCC Comm. Names 4 Initial 5G Bands for US, Eyes More
- FCC's Rosenworcel Urges US to 'Go It Alone' With 28GHz for 5G
- FCC Chair Wants to Take 5G Higher
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading