T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is seeking the FCC's permission to test millimeter wave technology in and around T-Mobile's own facilities in Bellevue, Wash., using equipment from various unnamed manufacturers.
In the experimental license application, T-Mobile says that as part of its efforts to be an industry leader and continue improving and increasing the capacity of its networks, it wants to conduct tests of 5G technology in the millimeter wave bands, which may play an important role in meeting the increasing demand for data-intensive applications.
Its proposed operations involve tests at four locations. T-Mobile wants to conduct indoor tests within the controlled environment of its Bellevue lab facilities. It also wants to conduct tests at its Bellevue headquarters and at two other nearby outdoor locations. Those tests will provide information on signal propagation between buildings and other critical data to inform the broader design of 5G systems, the applications states.
"In each case, T-Mobile will test signal strength, transmission and reception characteristics and other parameters that will be useful as it contemplates how it may incorporate millimeter wave spectrum in its network to support 5G operations," the operator said. "Because the tests will be conducted using very low power transmitters in controlled environments and based on the current limited use of these bands, the tests will be performed in a manner without causing harmful interference to licensees in the band."
T-Mobile wants permission to do its tests over the course of two years.
While Verizon (NYSE: VZ) last year declared it was going full steam ahead on 5G with its Technology Innovation forum partners, T-Mobile executives have questioned the viability of some of Verizon's claims when it comes to actually deploying a standards-defined version of the next-generation technology. Most industry leaders say 2020 is the real timeframe for 5G technologies to be commercially deployed based on industry standards.
Verizon has stood by its aggressive time table, however, reiterating how it led in the deployment of a nationwide LTE network and intends to lead the way in 5G.
While both T-Mobile and Verizon have ties to the upper-band spectrum, neither has millimeter wave licenses that cover the entire country. According to Allnet Insights & Analytics, AT&T doesn't hold any of the higher-band spectrum, and Sprint has some LMDS 28 GHz spectrum in Alaska.
Brian Goemmer, president of Allnet Insights & Analytics based in the Seattle area, told FierceWirelessTech earlier this month that he doesn't think having the high-band spectrum holdings is really a strategic advantage for anyone because the FCC controls so much of that spectrum and it shouldn't be terribly difficult for anyone to get a temporary license in pretty much any market to do 5G tests.
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