Remember the bit about the 12 GHz band that 5G proponents were using to advance their argument at the FCC? The one about “no federal encumbrances”?
That seems to be rising to the top in the wake of all the problems associated with C-band spectrum over the past week.
Granted, the 12 GHz band has its own set of challenges for the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition, which represents Dish Network, among others. Last year the coalition pointed out the advantages of the 12 GHz band while commending the FCC for making 100 MHz available in the 3.45 GHz band.
One of their biggest challenges is Starlink, the satellite service being deployed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Plus, there are other issues, such as whether an auction should be held to give players other than Dish a stab at the 12 GHz band for 5G.
Still, the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition pointed out that the 12 GHz band is the “only remaining unencumbered 5G spectrum” between 6 and 24 GHz that can meet the demand for mobile broadband. It represents the greatest opportunity to propel the U.S. into “global telecom leadership,” providing more capacity for Wi-Fi and spectrum sharing along the way. With 500 MHz in the band, it’s five times the spectrum that was offered in the 3.45 GHz auction.
“The C-Band dispute highlights the challenges of bringing 5G spectrum to market and the increasing complexity of navigating federal encumbrances. The 12 GHz band has none of those issues, making it incredibly valuable frequency for carriers to add to their toolbox for expanding connectivity,” said V. Noah Campbell, co-founder and CEO of RS Access, in a statement emailed to Fierce this week.
“We just passed the first anniversary of the FCC's unanimous vote to open the 12 GHz NPRM. The science on coexistence is settled, and the FCC should move quickly to make 500 MHz of prime mid-band spectrum available for 5G,” Campbell added.
RS Access is one of the largest holders of MVDDS licenses in the 12 GHz band; Dish controls the lion’s share and stands to gain the most if its spectrum in the 12 GHz band were allowed to be used for two-way 5G services. Dish started a process at the FCC more than five years ago to get the rules changed so that it could do so.
In a note for investors earlier this week, New Street Research analyst Blair Levin said there will be “long run residue in spectrum policy making” after the C-band.
For example, “it probably increases the value of 12 GHz, as there is no federal government user there and the FCC leadership may want to accelerate a positive spectrum proceeding to change the spectrum discussion,” Levin wrote.
Such an outcome would be good for Dish, he said, adding that all the different stakeholders, including the FCC and federal agencies that control spectrum sought by private enterprises, will seek to both learn from the dispute and “tell a narrative about the causes of the problems in ways that strengthen their position for the next spectrum battle.”