Facebook says it has 'no plans' to provide connectivity solutions in the U.S., supports high-band spectrum plan

While weighing in on the FCC's proposal to allocate more higher-band spectrum for mobile services, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) said it has "no plans" to provide connectivity solutions in the United States, but given its mission to make the world a more connected place, it's throwing its support behind the commission's plans to make more spectrum available.

The company said it "fully supports" the commission's proposals to make the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands available for mobile use while also promoting sharing among a variety of users and platforms.

As part of its Internet.org effort to connect the world, the company has designed unmanned aircraft that can beam Internet access down from the sky. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook about the company's plans to test a drone with a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737 that weighs less than a car. He said it would be powered by solar panels on its wings and have the ability to stay at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time.

In its Jan. 26 filing, Facebook used that Project Aquila as an example of an effort that has involved the testing of remotely-piloted, solar-powered aircraft "that would station-keep in the stratosphere to enable high capacity backhaul for mobile operators and other service providers."

Facebook is in the process of studying spectrum bands that were agreed upon at the ITU's 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference for high altitude platform stations (HAPS), including the 38-39.5 GHz band, which was identified for study on a global level.

The social media giant noted that connecting the unconnected will require a variety of technical solutions. In dense urban areas, wireless terrestrial systems can serve end users and support backhaul links. "In less dense areas, such as rural areas, where broadband infrastructure must be deployed over wide areas, using high altitude solar-powered aircraft to provide backhaul-type links to terrestrial aggregation points may be part of the optimal solution," the company said.

"In remote, sparsely populated areas, where there are significant gaps in infrastructure and the economic barriers of installing that infrastructure are considerably higher, satellite services may provide the most efficient means to connect. So while it will take a mix of technical solutions to connect the world's unserved and underserved areas, each of these solutions will require access to spectrum -- the oxygen of wireless networks."

Facebook also said the commission is paving the way for the United States to lead 5G network deployment. But, "even more is at stake," the social network said in its filing. "The Commission's decisions here will have continuing impact worldwide. Many national telecommunications regulatory bodies around the world look to the Commission as a leader in spectrum policy development and innovation."

Interestingly, during a press conference discussing last November's WRC-15 meeting, Francois Rancy, director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, said the standards body typically looks out 20 or 30 years and heard talk of balloons and drones back 20 years ago. One of the new technologies that was discussed extensively at last year's conference was an earth station in motion, whether it be an aircraft, automobile or something else, and "we have addressed the possibility of using a very large amount of spectrum which is already allocated to satellite services in the context of moving earth stations or moving platforms," he said.

For more:
- see this filing

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