Tags: 5G Wireless | FCC | Verizon | AT&T | wireless spectrum

5G Wireless Gets a Big Boost

5G Wireless Gets a Big Boost
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Friday, 15 July 2016 02:27 PM Current | Bio | Archive

On Thursday, June 14, 2016, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to open nearly 11 gigahertz of high-frequency spectrum to accommodate future “5G” (fifth generation) wireless technologies.

The implications of this? In a few years, mobile, flexible and fixed-use broadband wireless services and devices will support data transfers as much as 100 times the rate of current 4G technologies.

Until recently, the US government never really organized or promoted the development of 5G. South Korea and China aggressively worked on their 5G Creative Mobile Strategy, $1.5 billion joint government effort launched in 2014, and the European Union committed $950 million to its Horizon 2020 program, a 5G public-private partnership (5G PPP) begun in 2013.

But America and Japan were relying more on the initiatives of academia and private enterprise to develop the technology and devise new standards, such as New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering’s program to explore and develop millimeter-wave technologies, not to mention research into 5G networks by Verizon Communications and AT&T.

What the FCC did recently, however, was to recognize that the newest technologies being developed could utilize extremely high frequency bands and make those available for exploitation. Higher frequencies translate into higher data rates since more cycles per second are available to send more data per second.

Also, since the technology at such extremely high frequencies is still being developed, higher frequency bands such as millimeter wave are largely untapped and are thus available across North America; in this way quickly scaling up wireless network capacities to astonishing gigabit-per-second speeds to support future 5G devices and satisfy the exponential growth in the bandwidth demands of both consumers and the enterprise becomes doable.

Moreover, on the day following the FCC announcement, President Obama proclaimed a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, bolstered by funding from the National Science Foundation along with $35 million from AT&T, Intel, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and the usual cast of major telecom players.

These recent actions by the FCC and White House may in fact catapult the U.S. into a position of being the first country to offer advanced 5G services.

But all is not exactly sweetness and light when it comes to 5G and what the FCC has just done.

To get a less varnished view of what’s going on, I went to MIT grad, engineer and telecom entrepreneur Brough Turner, co-founder and CTO of the Internet services company netBlazr.

“One of these bands has been identified for public use (license-exempt use) i.e. the 64-71 GHz band,” begins Turner. “That's good news, although this is a band where atmospheric absorption severely limits the distance radio signals travel.

“The risk is all the other bands will be sold to the incumbent carriers for their exclusive use,” continues Turner. “Certainly Congress would like the resulting auction fees to help with their arcane accounting politics. Past history shows such spectrum auctions result in spectrum being locked up, unused, for years and then only used effectively in dense urban areas.

Turner elaborates: “If the politics dictate we must sell rights to the incumbents, it would be better to sell them exclusivity only when and where they have deployed active consumer coverage. The public should be allowed to use spectrum that carriers are warehousing right up to the time a carrier deploys actual services (4G, 5G or otherwise). With today's technology it would be easy to protect carriers with type-approved equipment that shuts down or changes channels automatically in any area where a carrier is actually using their ‘exclusive’ spectrum. Meanwhile, the public gets to leverage spectrum that otherwise sits fallow.”

Turner is an enthusiast when it comes to innovative technologies that can literally reuse sections of the electromagnetic spectrum, thus enabling devices to share the same frequency bands without any deterioration in quality of service owing to interference.

In any case, if all goes well, Verizon and AT&T plan to deploy 5G trials in 2017, and the first commercial deployments will appear in 2020, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Richard Grigonis is an internationally known technology editor and writer. He was executive editor of Technology Management Corporation’s IP Communications Group of magazines from 2006 to 2009. The author of five books on computers and telecom, including the highly influential "Computer Telephony Encyclopedia" (2000), he was founding editor-in-chief of Jeff Pulver’s Voice on the Net (VON) magazine from 2003 to 2006, and the chief technical editor of Harry Newton’s Computer Telephony magazine from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. Read more reports from Richard Grigonis — Click Here Now.

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The FCC has made available high-frequency spectrum to accommodate future 5G wireless technologies.
5G Wireless, FCC, Verizon, AT&T, wireless spectrum
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2016-27-15
Friday, 15 July 2016 02:27 PM
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