Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK) is pressing the FCC to consider 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, along with other millimeter wave (mmWave) bands, for 5G as part of the FCC's proceeding that looks at the use of spectrum bands above 24 GHz.
In a filing submitted to the FCC last week, Nokia argues that 5G needs both licensed and unlicensed spectrum, just like 3G and 4G, noting that the carrier grade unlicensed model, while attractive, remains "unproven." Licensed spectrum creates greater certainty for investment, according to Nokia, echoing the message from some other wireless vendors.
Nokia points out that a much anticipated solution to meet 4G data demand is network densification. 4G small cells will be deployed at street level, while micro/pico base stations are being deployed on lamp posts and on the sides of buildings. In the U.S., Sprint (NYSE: S) has said it will add "tens of thousands" of small cells to its network, and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is also working to densify its network through small cells.
Generally speaking, the 70/80 GHz, or E-Band, system concept is supposed to complement small cell deployment. Similar antenna and transceiver technologies to the 60 GHz band can be used, and the technology can simultaneously provide access and backhaul for 4G, plus backhaul for 5G, according to Nokia.
In the slide deck Nokia presented to the commission, the company pointed out that the unique difficulties that a mmWave system must overcome include narrow beamwidths -- provided by high dimension arrays -- and high penetration loss and diminished diffraction. Two of the main difficulties are acquiring and tracking user devices within the coverage area of the base station using a narrow beam antenna and mitigating shadowing with base station diversity and rapidly rerouting around obstacles when the user device is shadowed by an opaque obstacle in its path.
Nokia's lobbying efforts are not surprising given its research in mmWave spectrum. It has been involved in R&D with the NYU Wireless Research Center at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. At the Brooklyn 5G Summit with NYU Wireless earlier this year, it demonstrated a 10 Gbps peak rate system over the air at 73 GHz. At that speed, users could download a full-length HD movie to their phone in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. The 10 Gbps system, demonstrated with National Instruments, used 2x2 MIMO single carrier Null Cyclic Prefix modulation.
Nokia says it is preparing for 5G commercial network launches in 2020. The vendor started working on 5G with NTT DoCoMo in 2014 and delivered a mmWave trial the same year. It also completed field tests with DoCoMo earlier this year, and it expects to see additional features for 5G mmWave next year, when 5G standardization in 3GPP really gets under way.
Meanwhile, in the same FCC proceeding, the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) is urging the commission to reject the suggestion that it should try to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) before the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), which begins in November. "This proceeding raises complex technical and policy matters that require careful scrutiny and full deliberation," SIA said in its filing.
In a previous filing, the SIA urged the FCC to reject calls for exclusive use of spectrum for 5G and to protect and facilitate the continued use of spectrum in those bands, namely satellite service providers.
Samsung is one of those commenters asking the commission to adopt the 5G NPRM prior to the WRC-15, saying it would signal internationally that the United States intends to continue to lead the world in the investigation of new spectrum bands for mobile broadband services.
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