NYU Wireless director and founder Theodore (Ted) Rappaport has been appointed to serve on the Federal Communications Commission’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC), which is just starting a new two-year term.
This marks the second time Rappaport has served on TAC; his previous stint was for several years in the mid-2000s.
Back when he was on TAC more than a decade ago, Rappaport was talking about millimeter wave, 60 GHz and ultrawideband—things that have become more ingrained in the today's industry’s lexicon. It’s a pretty good bet that the current council will be looking into futuristic things like 6G, but Rappaport said he hasn’t yet participated in the initiation call, something that is scheduled to happen in the coming days, so he can’t say for sure.
More than 40 people are among the members of the current council, which will be advising the commission on a variety of topics, including the deployment of 5G, the spectrum needs of unmanned aircraft systems, new developments in antenna technology and applications of artificial intelligence to telecom networks.
Some other familiar names on the list: Martin Cooper, chairman of Dyna; Dale Hatfield of Silicon Flatirons Center; Karri Kuoppamaki of T-Mobile; Milo Medin of Google; and Thomas Sawanobori of CTIA. Facebook, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon, Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson and more are all represented.
Rappaport and his students conducted ground-breaking research into the use of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for wireless years before mmWave came into fashion. Back in March, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai invited him to present at the commission’s meeting where he discussed the prospects for spectrum above 95 GHz before the FCC voted to adopt new rules to encourage development of that spectrum.
“I think the USA is leading the world in spectrum for 5G,” especially in light of the auctions that have been conducted and those that are on the schedule before the end of the year, Rappaport said. “However, the U.S. is behind in getting mid-band spectrum,” a topic that Commissioner Michael O’Rielly discussed at the Brooklyn 5G Summit in April, citing his frustrations about some of the delays related to government-held spectrum.
What of the other big topic du jour—the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint? “I think a merger is the only way that both of those companies survive and thrive,” he said.
T-Mobile has low-band spectrum, but not enough mid- and high-band spectrum for it to be competitive long-term. Sprint has the most mid-band spectrum of any U.S. carrier, but it’s lacking in high-band and it’s lacking in customers.
To keep up with the applications and bandwidth needs, both of them need greater spectrum holdings, including high-band, and more infrastructure to light up the small cells. “I think together they get that done much easier” than either of them could do on their own due in part to the massive capital investments that are required.