Charter Communications has not been shy about its intentions in 5G, and it’s moving ahead with even more tests of fixed wireless in the 28 GHz band.
The cable company is asking the FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to advance its understanding of 5G technology and network potential in the millimeter wave bands. The application lists Ericsson as the manufacturer of 25 units to be tested.
The antennas will be mounted on hydraulic masts attached to a mobile trailer and a van, which will be moved to the requested test locations. In most cases, surrounding buildings and trees are taller than the masts; the masts on both the trailer and van will be raised only when testing is being conducted, according to the paperwork submitted to the commission.
The company is asking for the STA for 180 days, starting on March 23. The ultimate goal of the tests is to research the techniques and efficacy of fixed wireless broadband solutions in the 5G frequencies.
The experiments do not appear to be all that different from previous tests in states like Colorado and Florida. Charter previously was granted permission to test 5G using Ericsson gear at several locations in the Clarksville, Tennessee area, Columbus, Ohio, and elsewhere.
Separately, Charter is seeking permission to conduct more 3.5 GHz tests to study coverage, capacity and propagation in the 3550-3700 MHz band. The latest application calls for outdoor fixed experiments in Lexington, Kentucky, using 19 different models of fixed equipment. It also seeks an operation timeframe of March 23 to Sept. 19, 2018.
The company previously reported that its initial tests in the 3.5 GHz band show it can provide 25 Mbps services at “significant distances.” The company did not provide specific distances in its FCC filing (PDF) earlier this year. “Charter plans to continue testing in rural communities to investigate further how to expand the speeds and services it delivers,” the company said at the time.
Charter has been urging the FCC to implement county-sized geographic licensing areas for the Priority Access License (PAL) portion of the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band. The company says the county size makes for a good compromise between the census tracts that WISPs want and the Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) the larger wireless operators are asking for.
In a March 1 filing (PDF) with the commission, Charter said it’s “excited about the potential to use fixed wireless technologies in the 3.5 GHz band to provide wireline-like broadband connectivity and speeds to areas beyond the reach of its wired network, including to those in underserved and unserved areas ... given this spectrum’s propagation characteristics, Charter believes mobile uses of the CBRS band could combine well with Wi-Fi, allowing a new entrant, like cable, to deploy 3.5 GHz spectrum quickly and cost effectively.”
The company also expressed support for the commission to open 5.9 GHz spectrum for unlicensed use as soon as possible, noting the 5.9 GHz band’s size, location and capacity would be ideal for next-gen technologies.