4G Americas pushes regulators to start planning process for 5G spectrum

4G Americas, the wireless trade association that represents operators and vendors in North America, South America and Central America, wants regulators to seriously start thinking about how they're going to allocate spectrum for 5G.

The association released a white paper this week that outlines the challenges and implications of different frequency ranges, various licensing aspects and potential technology enhancements to enable access to new spectrum. The group said action is needed by regulators to ensure that new spectrum needs are addressed for the evolution of 4G and to address the timely introduction of 5G by identifying new spectrum ranges to be studied in the ITU-Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). 

The paper is a "good foundational blueprint for 5G spectrum planning and the time is now to move forward with the planning process of looking at what's going to be used for 5G spectrum," Chris Pearson, president of Bellevue, Wash.-based 4G Americas, told FierceWirelessTech.

The white paper addresses low-, mid- and high-band spectrum and what's needed from technology and regulatory standpoints. While lower frequencies have better propagation characteristics for better coverage, it's also important to consider frequencies above 6 GHz. Higher frequencies can support wider bandwidth carriers due to large spectrum availability at millimeter-wave bands for providing very high peak data rates in specific areas where traffic demands are high, according to 4G Americas.

The FCC published a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in October 2014 in which it sought comments on several bands for potential 5G use cases. 4G Americas points out that the FCC was the first regulator in the world that asked specific questions about consideration of suitable spectrum for future mobile broadband systems. Since then, other regulators also have approached the subject in the prelude to World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15) discussions on a WRC-19 agenda item for 5G spectrum. The WRC-15 is set to take place in Geneva in November.

The white paper also noted that the United States has decided on proposing the following ranges to be studied for consideration at WRC-19 as potential ranges for 5G spectrum: 27.5-29.5 GHz; 37-40.5 GHz; 47.2-50.2 GHz; 50.4-52.6 GHz; and 59.3-71 GHz. It suggests that the FCC, together with other regulators of the Americas region, could play a significant role in the international discussions and negotiations before and during WRC-15 for reaching agreement on a set of globally harmonized spectrum bands for 5G.

4G Americas is urging regulators to implement an exclusive licensing regimen in all 5G bands to the greatest extent possible, but it also says that sharing of spectrum in bands that cannot be cleared in an appropriate timeframe should be considered. Sharing with incumbents such as fixed satellite services, radar and other users might be possible while ensuring flexibility of technology and use as well as protection of incumbents, the paper says. "Therefore, 5G Americas encourages regulators to conduct radio compatibility studies to derive emission and coordination requirements to enable coexistence between 5G and incumbents in the same or adjacent bands," the paper states.

While a lot of 5G work is going on in South Korea and elsewhere, the United States can be a leader in 5G, Pearson said. "You do have an innovation cycle and history of innovation in the United States," he said. "For people to count the United States out because they don't see the headlines that you see from other governments or certain vendors in other parts of the world would not be understanding that there is a lot of work going on all over the world, including the United States, and we're very early in the process."

Pearson added that 4G Americas, for example, has a robust 5G work program and a lot of subject matter experts from various technology companies that are looking at the 5G space and making recommendations.

4G Americas is holding what it calls a "5G Week with 4G Americas," a free webinar mini-series to explore 5G spectrum, use cases and technology, on Sept. 2 and 3.

For more:
- see this release and this white paper

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