Qualcomm Technologies is asking the FCC to approve a modification to an existing license in part so that it can add unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to the roster.
Qualcomm already has used the 3560-3650 MHz frequency range to develop 4G LTE technologies under the call sign WH2XIN, but now it wants to modify the license to enable 5G development testing.
Specifically, the company wants to reduce the lower frequency to 3550 MHz rather than 3560 MHz, but the high end remains the same at 3650 MHz. It’s also asking to increase the transmission bandwidth to 100 MHz and add the deployment of UAS within a 1-mile radius at an altitude of 400 feet.
Qualcomm previously has shared results of its drone tests at its UAS flight center in San Diego, where it has demonstrated that LTE networks can support safe drone operation in real-world environments. The company is an active member of the Drone Advisory Committee Sub-Committee (DAC-SC) and it’s contributing research and advice to industry and the FAA about the viability of using commercial cellular networks for safe drone operation, particularly for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights.
To enable 5G testing, Qualcomm says an additional 10 MHz of spectrum is necessary to support the required 100 MHz channel bandwidth. In addition, it wants to use the spectrum for limited testing of the UAS. The intent is to operate the LTE and 5G networks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a period of one year.
The testing will use up to 10 fixed site base stations and up to 50 small cell sites, with mobile devices to be operated within the coverage provided by fixed sites. The fixed sites and small cells support MIMO.
Qualcomm also said it’s coordinating with the U.S. Navy through the Navy and Marine Corps Spectrum Offices (NMCSO).
Although some entities have been pushing the FCC to move ahead with certification efforts for the 3.5 GHz band—its unique sharing setup requires Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) administrators approved by the FCC—others have been lobbying for the FCC to change the rules they approved last year. CTIA and T-Mobile are recommending longer licensing terms and closer alignment of the 3.5 GHz with the rest of the world for 5G.