Facebook pushes for more sharing - not less - in millimeter wave spectrum

As the FCC prepares to vote on millimeter wave spectrum proposals next month, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is urging the commission to adopt a use-it-or-share-it license approach and open up access to more unlicensed spectrum in millimeter wave bands, particularly the 64-71 GHz band.

In an ex parte presentation, Facebook said it supports sharing between satellite operators and users of the new Upper Microwave Flexible Use service in the 28, 37 and 39 GHz bands. It said that degree of sharing allows for the coexistence of satellite earth stations without harm to mobile deployments in those bands.

It's also urging the commission not to determine today that the 28, 37 and 39 GHz bands would be closed to sharing technologies for more than 10 years, which is the license period supported by a majority of operators.

AT&T (NYSE: T), for one, has said 10-year license renewal terms are appropriate, given that concrete renewal terms are important for bolstering confidence that investments in 5G will pay off. AT&T has also argued against the "use-it-or-share-it" mandate if portions of a license are unused five years after a license grant has been made, saying it's difficult to define "unused spectrum" when some of it is reserved for peak demand periods, and such a scheme might jeopardize the commercial viability of the spectrum.

Facebook is lobbying for more use of spectrum access systems and related technologies that allow for more sharing and management of spectrum, something most operators don't want to encourage in the millimeter bands until they're given a chance to prove themselves in the 3.5 GHz band. Facebook said that sharing technologies could help to balance the needs of mobile network operators seeking to invest in wide-area network infrastructure as well as the needs of other platforms, all while keeping these bands open to the kind of innovation that is yet to come.

The social media giant noted that in addition to the evolution of incumbent mobile and satellite technologies, new technologies, such as remotely piloted high-altitude solar-powered unmanned aircraft (HAPS) and innovative terrestrial wireless systems should be considered as part of a comprehensive solution to bring better connectivity in urban, rural and remote areas.

Facebook continues to work on its vision to connect the unconnected. It's developing a multi-mode wireless system focused on bringing high-speed internet connectivity to dense urban areas that operates on unlicensed V-Band spectrum. The company told the commission that expanding unlicensed access to the 60-71 GHz band would increase such opportunities.

For more:
- see this Facebook filing (PDF)

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