Ericsson wants to revise STA for US Cellular 5G trials


Ericsson is asking the FCC for permission to revise an earlier Special Temporary Authority (STA) it was granted to conduct 5G trials with US Cellular next month.

The vendor was granted an STA to do tests at 15 GHz last month in Madison, Wisconsin, but revised the output power and refiled a new application last week. The demo will be outdoors, with the antenna mounted on the side of a US Cellular tower, but the application provided few other details. Ericsson asked that it be given confidential treatment because the information qualifies as trade secrets.

Ericsson said it will be using government spectrum, with the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) and affected government users conducting their own review of an unredacted application. Ericsson explained that it is requesting to operate on the government spectrum band only because the few prototypes it has available for trials/demos were designed in Sweden to operate on that band.

“Although we have submitted numerous requests for STAs to demo 5G in the band, we have no plans to request that this spectrum be repurposed for commercial use,” the company reiterated.

The application did say the antenna will be mounted at 123 feet on the tower. Because of the frequencies they’re using, Ericsson also needs to get clearance from the FAA, so it submitted the STA request with the FCC in the hopes of getting both processes done by the time the trials are supposed to start in November.

FCC records showed that Ericsson has been granted at least nine STAs this year, including one in April for operating at 14.7-15.1 GHz because the gear was designed to operate in Sweden at that frequency.

During an event at the CTIA Super Mobility show in September, US Cellular CTO and EVP Michael Irizarry said the operator’s first 5G test would be conducted in the 28 GHz band with an “incumbent vendor” that he did not name. He didn’t provide any further details on that planned test, which was due to start last month, but he said U.S. Cellular also planned to conduct another 5G test later in the 15 GHz band, and then also possibly a third test. He said the tests are geared toward helping U.S. Cellular understand the propagation characteristics of wireless operations in higher bands.

U.S. Cellular’s involvement in 5G tests is noteworthy given that much of the attention has been centered around the bigger carriers. Last month, Ericsson and T-Mobile announced that their 5G trial included a voice call between 4G and 5G networks using Ericsson's 5G radio prototype system and T-Mobile's LTE network and devices. Their demo showed it was possible to achieve connection throughput of over 12 Gbps for 5G downloads and ultra-low latency connections of less than 2 milliseconds. That 5G trial occurred in August at Ericsson's facilities and included test demonstrations of two-directional beam steering, operation of multiple simultaneous 4K video streams and the first test of a voice call connecting between 4G and 5G networks.

AT&T earlier this year said its 5G tests in 15 GHz produced download speeds of 14 Gbps to a single user and 5 Gbps to two users. The operator also had plans to test a 28 GHz system this year. Verizon has said its early 5G tests hinted at network speeds topping 10 Gbps and the ability to transmit 4K video while moving. The operator hopes to deploy commercial fixed 5G services by next year.

For more:
- see this Ericsson application (PDF)

Related articles:
U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile CTOs detail ongoing tests of 5G technology
Ericsson claims first in delivering 5G radio, with commercial deployments due in 2017
AT&T seeing 14 Gbps to one user, 5 Gbps to two users in 5G tests