From Teligent to FiberTower to Verizon: An inside look at LMDS, millimeter wave and 5G

It's no secret that companies including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are eying millimeter wave bands like 28 GHz and 39 GHz for their planned 5G tests and networks. And early assessments indicate that these bands can help speed wireless transmissions to 1 Gbps or higher.

But this isn't the first time wireless players have sought out businesses in the millimeter wave spectrum bands at 28 GHz and above. As FierceWirelessTech Editor Monica Alleven notes,  the FCC in 1997 developed a band plan making 1,300 megahertz of local multipoint distribution service (LMDS) licenses available across the United States. Players ranging from Teligent to Winstar and NextLink -- with backing by some big names like Craig McCaw and Microsoft -- snapped up those high-band licenses with dreams of sending high-speed broadband from rooftops to surrounding small- and medium-sized businesses.

As Alleven pointed out, most such efforts ended in bankruptcy.

Today, though, thanks to new millimeter wave innovations from players like NYU Wireless and others, the wireless industry is once again looking at high-band spectrum as a speed and capacity boon. Straight Path, FiberTower Spectrum Holdings and Verizon (through its deal with XO Communications) are among those looking to rekindle interest in the high-band spectrum. For more on this topic, check out Alleven's recent Editor's Corner.