Ericsson seeks license for 28 GHz experiments in San Jose

Ericsson is asking the FCC to approve a new license so that it can conduct experiments at 28 GHz in San Jose as part of precommercial outdoor field trials to validate 5G concepts and performance.

Not much information is revealed in the heavily redacted application as Ericsson seeks confidential treatment due to sensitive trade secrets and stiff competition for 5G network technology. Similar treatment has been sought and granted in the past. Industry consultant Steve Crowley first spotted the application.

“Ericsson has previously disclosed some of the information in this application to the FCC and NTIA because we have filed for experimental licenses and STAs based on the technical information,” the company said in its request for confidentiality. “We have always requested confidentiality in these filings, and the FCC has granted all our previous requests for confidentiality.”

Ericsson did reveal that it wants to test one 5G base station at 27.5-28.35 GHz and would like authorization by March 28, 2017. The base station radio unit will be mounted on a mast that is attached to a van, similar to another experiment recently planned for Palo Alto, California.

A lot of 5G action has been happening in the 28 GHz band among operators and vendors. Just last week, Ericsson and IBM announced a breakthrough in a new silicon-based millimeter-wave phased-array integrated circuit (IC) at 28 GHz that could be used in future 5G base stations.

The two companies had been collaborating for more than two years, combining IBM’s expertise in highly integrated phased-array mmWave IC and antenna-in-a-package solutions and Ericsson’s know-how in circuit and system design for mobile communications. Not only were they able to build the module with four monolithic integrated circuits and 64 dual-polarized antennas, but they also managed to get the size down to what amounts to about half the size of a typical smartphone.

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Earlier this month, Verizon disclosed that it closed its acquisition of XO Communications, which was initially announced last year. Under terms of the deal, Verizon will be able to lease XO's 102 LMDS licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands, which it is using for 5G tests.

Straight Path prides itself on its status as the largest holder of 39 GHz spectrum as well as a significant holder of 28 GHz in major markets. The company recently announced a round of funding that will cover its FCC obligations for the next nine months, enabling it to explore strategic alternatives for its business. The expectation for a long time has been that Straight Path would sell its licenses to a network operator, be it wireless, cable or greenfield.