Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Intel and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) are among those submitting comments in an attempt to get the FCC to include their ideas in rules for handling high-band spectrum for 5G. Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is telling the satellite industry that, in no uncertain terms, it needs to get on the spectrum sharing train or else.
Wheeler's comments come as the FCC prepares to act on its Spectrum Frontiers proceeding this summer. The satellite industry has expressed the most vocal opposition to some of the concepts in the proceeding and companies like O3b say use of the 28 GHz band, an important band for 5G, is essential to their operations.
Wheeler made his comments in prepared remarks for a keynote at the Satellite Industry Association's (SIA) 19th Annual Satellite Leadership Dinner in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. SIA invited him to address the congregation along with Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work.
Wheeler said he wants the satellite companies to work with the terrestrial mobile industry to find technical solutions to sharing in the airwaves at 24 GHz and above.
"I strongly encourage SIA member companies to explore these sharing opportunities with the terrestrial industry – quickly and seriously," he said. "This will require the industries to work diligently to resolve the technical details necessary for sharing scarce spectrum across the spectrum chart, so that a variety of technologies can work together in deploying broadband and maximizing the benefits of high-speed connectivity."
Wheeler said he is convinced that terrestrial and satellite systems can work effectively together to share the higher spectrum bands and both can flourish – "a conviction reinforced by the fact that our defense agencies have found ways to accommodate sharing with commercial interests."
He added that as someone who has spent decades practicing before the commission and now finds himself on the other side of the table, "I offer a bit of hard-earned experience: it is far more practical to get on the train than to be run over by it."
In a statement to FierceWirelessTech, SIA President Tom Stroup said his organization appreciates Chairman Wheeler's keynote address at its SIA Leadership Dinner, "plus his recognition of the innovative and increasingly vital role the commercial satellite industry plays in the lives of government, enterprise and consumer customers worldwide."
"We also appreciate his enthusiastic support and advocacy for the development of next generation wireless services known as 5G," Stroup said in the statement. "SIA and its members look forward to collaborating with terrestrial providers and regulators to maximize the potential utility of 5G for all customers both here and abroad."
Wheeler also took the opportunity at the SIA event to mention the FCC's proposal to use the 28 GHz band for 5G. While he understands it's an important band for the satellite community, "it was beyond disappointing to see the satellite industry work so hard to block the ITU from even studying 5G at 28 GHz at the recent WRC in Geneva," he said. "Such intransigence was frustrating. I do not believe it was in the satellite industry's interest to stop the ITU from even exploring sharing at 28 GHz. This is espececially true when the U.S. and other countries interested in being leaders in 5G are already committed to developing sharing in that band."
He added that it would have made more sense to have that study take place in a setting where the satellite industry is an experienced and active participant in the process.
Earlier this week, representatives from Ericsson, Intel, Nokia and the Information Technology Industry Council met with Brendan Carr, legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, to discuss their desires for expedient action in the millimeter wave bands. They urged the commission to adopt a market-based mechanism to balance the interests of fixed satellite and terrestrial wireless interests and promote sharing or partitioning. They also want to see a flexible license approach to the 37 GHz band instead of a proposed "hybrid" approach.
Other stakeholders in the 5G millimeter band spectrum proceeding continue to lobby for their companies' best interests as well. Their individual filings with the FCC address various and oftentimes very specific pieces of the 5G puzzle. Google, for example, is urging the FCC to allow fixed and mobile field disturbance sensors to operate alongside other communications services between 57 and 71 GHz.
Qualcomm wants the FCC to use the limits and test procedures set out in the IEEE and ICNIRP standards for portable device operations in the millimeter wave bands, and it points out that that view is unanimously supported by all parties that commented on it in the FCC's proceeding, including Ericsson, Nokia, Straight Path, Intel and CTIA.
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