FCC to drive US 5G goals with more spectrum

Ajit Pai
Picture: Ajit Pai, Chairman of the US, FCC.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlined plans to free up more spectrum for 5G and Wi-Fi, as well as opening up rules for rural carriers to promote investment, as it looks drive US leadership in the next-generation of mobile technology.

In a blog post, chairman Ajit Pai (pictured) outlined the regulator’s spectrum proposal, which will be voted on later this month, with the announcement building on a speech he made last week at a White House summit on 5G.

In his presentation, he focused on the FCC’s plan to promote US superiority on 5G technology through its 5G FAST Plan, on which he provided more detail with this latest announcement.

5G leadership
Starting with 5G, Pai highlighted the regulator’s plans to hold two auctions for high-band mmWave spectrum in the 28GHz and 24GHz bands beginning on 14 November, but added it also wants to free up mid-band spectrum for 5G and other uses.

Therefore, it is proposing to make better use of the 3.5GHz, which will “make targeted changes to our rules to promote investment and innovation in this important band”.

“For example, by allowing providers to renew 3.5GHz licences, we will substantially increase their incentive to deploy 5G networks using this spectrum,” said Pai.

While 3.5GHz spectrum has not been touted as 5G-suitable, it does have the potential to deliver more capacity and speed compared with spectrum currently used in today’s mobile networks.

Wi-Fi opportunity
Turning to Wi-Fi, Pai said the technology was enabled by the FCC’s decision to make certain spectrum available for unlicensed use and, as it becomes more popular, “so has the demand for more unlicensed spectrum to accommodate this traffic”.

Wi-Fi currently runs on only two frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, but expanding its use to another band could alleviate congestion.

Therefore, the regulator is proposing to expand unlicensed use in the 6GHz band, which would “promote efficient use of the spectrum that may otherwise not be used at all”. Pai added that it could make more than 1GHz of new unlicensed spectrum available.

“This last point bears elaboration: this massive amount of spectrum could enable faster Wi-Fi connections and substantially expand the reach of internet access providers that use unlicensed spectrum, like small, competitive fixed wireless companies,” he said.

Pai added the move could also enable mobile broadband companies to supplement their licensed holdings for 5G.

Finally, Pai said the regulator will also vote on modernising rules governing rural carriers, with the view of removing regulations to allow them to invest in their networks.

He said the order, if approved, would enable rural companies to take “resources currently wasted on regulatory compliance and devote them to building stronger networks and delivering better services”.

Source: Mobile World Live