Nokia gets green light for 28 GHz tests in multiple markets

Nokia sign at MWC18
Nokia added a new station at 211 Avenue A in New York to its application. (FierceWireless)

Nokia received approval from the FCC to add one more site in New York to the list of markets where it’s conducting experiments with 28 GHz.

The FCC grant (PDF) gives Nokia the authority to conduct further tests at Nokia facilities in Irving, Texas; Arlington Heights, Illinois; Murray Hill, New Jersey; and at Verizon facilities in Euless and Carrollton, Texas; South Plainfield and Basking Ridge, New Jersey; and Waltham, Massachussetts; among other locations.

Nokia is also conducting tests at U.S. Cellular’s campus in Schaumberg, Ill., and at a Columbia University facility in New York.  

Nokia previously had received authority to conduct the tests, with the exception of the additional New York location (PDF), under the call sign WI2XFC. The most recent grant is good from Oct. 15, 2018, until April 1, 2020.

Nokia’s continued interest in conducting 28 GHz experiments with Verizon is no surprise. The nationwide carrier holds the lion’s share of 28 GHz licenses through secondary market acquisitions. It’s also among those in the running to bid in the 28 GHz auction that starts Nov. 14.

RELATED: Smaller and regional carriers begin to rally around 5G

U.S. Cellular also put its name into the ring for the 28 GHz auction, as well as the 24 GHz auction to follow thereafter. Other smaller regional operators applying to participate include Union Telephone Company, Nsight, Inland Cellular and Bluegrass.

U.S. Cellular CEO Kenneth Meyers explained during the carrier’s second-quarter conference call in August that in prior quarters, it conducted several 5G trials with its vendor partner using pre-standardized equipment. Those tests focused on better understanding the propagation characteristics of millimeter wave spectrum, he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Clearly, there’s still a desire to better understand how operators can use millimeter wave spectrum to their advantage. Meyers said U.S. Cellular’s next series of trials would focus on better understanding the benefits of beamforming with millimeter wave frequencies as well as 5G core capabilities such as network slicing.

U.S. Cellular CTO Michael Irizarry told analysts the carrier has been spending a lot of time trying to understand what 5G use cases represent the greatest opportunity for the company. “Frankly, the use cases that you focus on really drive how you think about the spectrum that you might need,” he said, according to Seeking Alpha.

“So if you wanted to cover this full range of 5G use cases that are talked about, you would probably need a good amount of low-band, mid-band, a.k.a the C-band and millimeter wave,” he added. “On the other hand, if you weren't interested in some of the higher-speed use cases, lower-latency use cases, you might consider foregoing a lot of millimeter wave or cut back on the amount you want there. So we're still working on getting clarity around the use case, and then that'll then form how we think about what we need for spectrum.”