Charter wants to conduct 28 GHz 5G experiments in Florida

Charter 5G
This image was included in Charter's application with the FCC; it is meant for conceptual illustration only.

Charter Communications appears to be as serious about 5G as anyone, with plans to test antennas at several locations in the Orlando, Florida, area, if the FCC approves its application.

Charter subsidiary CCO Fiberlink filed the paperwork, first spotted by consulting wireless engineer Steve Crowley, that seeks a two-year experimental license beginning June 1 to test and evaluate millimeter wave coverage and capacity performance. The application lists Ericsson as the equipment provider.

Charter intends to conduct fixed wireless experiments in the 28 GHz band—and it’s already coordinated the proposed testing with Straight Path Communications, which holds 28 GHz licenses in the Orlando area, according to the filing.

“The proposed operations will advance Charter’s understanding of 5G technology and network potential in the millimeter wave bands and will advance the deployment of 5G fixed and mobile services,” the company stated in the application.

Antennas will be mounted on a mobile trailer and van with hydraulic masts, which will be moved to each of the requested test locations. Besides Orlando, the application lists Kissimmee, Cape Canaveral, South Daytona and several other Florida markets as test locations. All the locations are owned by Charter and operated as hub sites, headends and offices. In most cases, the surrounding buildings and trees are taller than the masts, which will be raised only when tests are being conducted.

RELATED: Charter’s Rutledge touts 5G future of self-driving cars, mobile VR

It’s not the first time Charter has signaled its 5G intentions. Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge suggested during the company’s third-quarter conference call last year that 5G-type technologies are products the company would develop. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in February, Rutledge talked about the 5G-like field trials the company has been doing using test licenses granted by the FCC.

The company intends to use the field trials as learning opportunities to provide better insight into the capabilities of its wireline network, when attaching radios with high-frequency licensed and unlicensed spectrum, Rutledge explained in February, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.  

Rutledge said the initial products using millimeter wave technology will likely be fixed rather than mobile and that Charter’s Wi-Fi and distribution networks are set up really well—from a total capital cost perspective—for the types of products that are expected in 5G. New products taking advantage of low-latency, high-capacity networks include virtual reality and augmented reality products, many of which will be used in a fixed home or office location.

RELATED: Nokia files to demo 5G at 28 GHz at Charter facility in Colorado

Nokia was granted a temporary authorization earlier this year to demonstrate its 5G gear at Charter’s Englewood, Colorado, facility. That equipment was also for the 28 GHz band.