U.S. aims to get ahead of the rest of the world in advanced wireless technology.
As we’ve reported, the FCC has been hard at work on the regulatory regime for future wireless “5G” technologies, which promise blindingly fast data speeds.
Would-be 5G wireless providers and device manufacturers particularly want wide swaths of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum – frequencies above 24 GHz – for fastest speeds and highest video resolution. An advantage to this spectrum: at present a lot of it is only lightly used. Because these frequencies work best at short range, many envision that the highest-speed service will add to, but not fully replace, current 4G technology. Best of all, transmitter and antenna technologies are close to being ready.
In the Report and Order (R&O) component of a massive, 278-page Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Order), the FCC has made mmWave spectrum available for both licensed and unlicensed use. New rules provide for mobile use in the 28, 37, and 39 GHz bands. And the newly-opened 64-71 GHz band will provide a total of 14 GHz for unlicensed use of WiGig technology, similar to a higher-frequency version of Wi-Fi. Through the Further Notice of Rulemaking (FNPRM) portion of the Order, the FCC is looking to address a number of issues left open in the R&O portion. (The fact that some issues remained unresolved is not surprising, since the R&O was wrapped up in near-record time, for the FCC – just nine months after the rules were formally proposed.)
The FCC has followed through on its proposal to make available almost 4 GHz of spectrum for flexible licensed use in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, and 39 GHz bands. Here “flexible” means that a licensee can use its frequencies for either fixed or mobile applications. This is a novel idea in the halls of the FCC – one that’s been talked about for years, but is only now finally being implemented. The R&O creates a new “Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service” (UMFUS) in a new Part 30 of the FCC rulebook. Continue Reading