A group pushing for the government to open up the 12 GHz band for 5G services has produced a technical analysis that shows that, yes, indeed, coexistence is possible in the band between satellite companies and terrestrial wireless.
The analysis includes two studies – a technical feasibility study by RKF Engineering Solutions and an economic analysis by The Brattle Group – that were filed with the FCC on Friday.
The studies were presented as part of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that the FCC announced earlier this year. The first round of comments came due May 7, with another round expected by early June.
SpaceX, one of the biggest opponents of the effort to allow 5G services in the 12 GHz band, has been referring to these reports as “Secret Studies” that RS Access has been promising but, according to SpaceX, refused to reveal “until the absolute last possible instant.”
What RS Access says
According to RS Access, the engineering analysis by RKF is the most comprehensive analysis of coexistence between 5G and Non-Geostationary Orbiting (NGSO) satellite broadband systems to date, modeling a nationwide 5G network of 50,000 macro cells and a future Starlink deployment of 2.5 million user terminals.
“This comprehensive, nationwide engineering study demonstrates that unleashing 12 GHz for 5G deployment and coexistence with other services in the band is highly feasible,” said David Marshack, COO of RKF Engineering, in a statement. “This is the ‘win-win’ that the FCC has been looking for in this band.”
The upshot: The study estimates that a nationwide 5G network would cause interference to less than 1% of NGSO terminals, and of those, mitigation solutions would be readily available through techniques such as channel selection and coordinated siting. The proponents of using 5G in the 12 GHz band say these solutions are easy to implement considering there are a minimal number of actual NGSO subscribers on the ground.
“We’re not anti-Starlink. We’re not anti-NGSO. What we are is we’re pro-engineering. We’re pro-science and we’ve engaged in a very rigorous scientific engineering study, which shows that very few future users will experience any interference here at all,” V Noah Campbell, CEO and founder of RS Access, told Fierce.
Asked how much RS Access paid for the technical study, Campbell declined to answer, citing confidentiality reasons.
In a separate economic analysis, The Brattle Group concluded that introducing flexible-use licenses for two-way mobile broadband in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band will meet the need for more spectrum to support U.S. telecom competitiveness.
It also represents “a clear win-win for consumers; a rules update and coexistence framework would address the rapidly evolving use cases for this spectrum and an explosion in demand for mobile 5G services,” said Coleman Bazelon, lead economist of the report, in a statement.
RS Access is one of the big proponents behind the effort to open the 12 GHz band for 5G. The other is Dish Network, which holds licenses in the band, but the rules state that the spectrum can only be used for one-way communications, not two-way. Naturally, Dish would like to get its hands on more spectrum as it aims to create a standalone 5G network to compete with incumbents like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
But SpaceX seized upon the theme of Dish’s spectrum rights in an April 30 filing with the commission. Dish is part of the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition that launched on April 28.
“On the very same day the Dish Coalition filed this opposition, Dish itself announced that it was yet again falling behind on its commitments to the commission to deploy a network using its existing spectrum in a timely manner,” SpaceX told the FCC. “In fact, Dish publicly declared that it would likely request that the commission adjust the deployment timelines of the commitments it made just months ago. These delays demonstrate that there is absolutely no urgency to give DISH yet more spectrum rights, given its inability to serve the public using its existing warehouse of unused spectrum.”