T-Mobile USA is setting out to test pre-commercial LTE Advanced products using multiple spectrum bands—700 MHz, PCS and AWS spectrum—in El Paso, Texas, and Augusta, Georgia, with the goal of testing the products outside a lab environment but in a controlled and managed manner.
The operator, which is seeking Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC, will use equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung and wants to conduct the tests starting this year and into the first part of next year.
T-Mobile explained in its application that the experiments will use 700 MHz, PCS and AWS spectrum licensed to T-Mobile as well as AWS-3 spectrum that is held by the FCC. T-Mobile said it only seeks experimental authority for the AWS-3 spectrum that is not licensed to it in the Augusta or El Paso markets. It plans to transmit using 2155-2160 MHz and 1755-1760 MHz in El Paso, and 2165-2170 MHz and 1765-1770 MHz in Augusta.
If approved, it will be using mobile devices that are certified as well as prototypes. In the Augusta market, it will use a Nokia base station and in El Paso, the base stations are from Ericsson. T-Mobile expects to use up to 36 mobile units as part of the tests.
While these experiments involve various spectrum bands, T-Mobile would like to get its hands on even more. Citing huge demands and the need for the U.S. to identify new spectrum for wireless broadband services, T-Mobile suggested in an Oct. 2 filing (PDF) that the FCC should consider designating all or a portion of the 6.425-7.125 GHz band for licensed mobile broadband use. (In its notice seeking comments on mid-band spectrum, the FCC asked whether the 6.425-7.125 GHz band, currently allocated for non-federal fixed services (FS) and fixed satellite services (FSS) on a primary basis, can be used for mobile broadband.)
Though the 3.7-4.2 GHz is an important first step to support licensed mobile wireless broadband, additional spectrum is needed to support 5G services, T-Mobile said. Even assuming the designation of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for wireless broadband, there will be only 500 megahertz of spectrum designated for that purpose, it said, adding that for the same reason the 3.7-4.2 GHz band is well-suited for wireless broadband, the commission should consider the 6.425-7.125 GHz for that as well.
However, there’s a lot of competition for the 6 GHz band—a slew of companies also want that spectrum designated for unlicensed purposes. A coalition that includes Apple, Google, Facebook, Qualcomm, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Intel and Broadcom—about 30 companies in total—say they’d like to see the creation of a 6 GHz band with four sub-bands, each protecting current incumbents in the bands.
The FCC sought comments on other bands as well and T-Mobile said the commission should work with NTIA to assess the potential use of the 4.2-4.4 GHz band. It also recommends the commission work with NTIA to make the 7.125-8.400 GHz band available for federal/non-federal sharing, and said if the band is made available for FS use, it can accommodate FS operations that are relocated from any parts of the 5.925-7.125 GHz band where future licensed wireless broadband operations could be authorized.
The 4.9 GHz band historically has been under-used, and the commission should evaluate whether that spectrum is still required to meet public safety needs on an exclusive basis, the operator said. In addition, there’s a pending request before the commission to make greater use of the 12.2-12.7 GHz band. The Multichannel Video Data and Distribution (MVDDS) 5G Coalition filed a petition last year asking the commission to adopt rules that would permit MVDDS licensees to use the 12.2-12.7 GHz band for two-way mobile broadband.
“Assuming the Commission can resolve interference, the Commission can auction any terrestrial rights to operate in the 12 GHz band pursuant to Section 309(j) of the Communications Act instead of awarding those rights to MVDDS licensees who have not, to date, done anything with the spectrum despite the flexibility the Commission has provided,” T-Mobile said.