T-Mobile is asking the FCC for permission to evaluate a microwave radio with integrated antenna for the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz bands, commonly known as the E-band spectrum. The manufacturer of the equipment is Ceragon.
T-Mobile’s application, uncovered earlier by Mobile World Live, notes that it already holds a nationwide license for the 70/80/90 GHz bands and operates many links that are registered through the third-party database manager system. But it still needs a Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC to evaluate this particular gear.
The radio is FCC certified and the antenna under evaluation meets ETSI Class 2 sidelobe suppression requirements, but doesn’t currently meet antenna requirements per the FCC. The rule requires use of an ETSI Class 3 or 4 antenna; the Huber and Suhner Sencity Matrix 70/80 antenna meets the ETSI Class 2 certification.
T-Mobile says it’s working with equipment vendors to evaluate 5G solutions for high bandwidth, short hop radio links for urban cores. This solution under consideration would be perfect for point-to-point hops from one building to another, according to a narrative accompanying the application.
The location of the test will consist of two sites in Bellevue, Washington, which is where T-Mobile has its headquarters. The antenna will be mounted on the roof of each building.
Product specs for Ceragon’s FibeAir IP-20E indicate it can provide ultra-high radio capacity and spectral efficiency of up to 2.5 Gbps over a 500 MHz channel. And its physical footprint, with an integrated flat panel antenna, allows for installation on poles and street furniture.
Currently, the 70/80/90 GHz spectrum in the U.S. is considered “lightly licensed.” In 2003, the FCC adopted a Report and Order establishing service rules to promote non-federal government development and use of the 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 92-95 GHz bands on a shared basis with federal government operations.
More recently, the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz bands have been considered as a potential candidate for mobile services in the context of the commission’s Spectrum Frontiers proceeding.
Using unlicensed or lightly licensed millimeter wave frequencies, such as the 60 GHz V-Band or 70/80 GHz E-Band, is a cost-effective choice for deploying fiberlike 5G fixed wireless access (FWA), according to a recent report by Maravedis.
The report notes that Webpass, a gigabit ISP acquired by Google Fiber in 2016, has used commercially available mmWave technology to provide broadband service using a combination of fiber networks and point-to-point mmWave radios for residential and business customers. The radios operate in the 70/80 GHz band, avoiding the licensed mmWave spectrum owned mostly by large ISPs like Verizon and AT&T.