T-Mobile sets out to test new 3.5 GHz gear from Nokia, Ericsson

t-mobile arena (T-Mobile)
T-Mobile is working with vendors on new 3550-3700 MHz equipment and continues to press for changes to the 3.5 GHz rules.

T-Mobile USA has applied for Special Temporary Authority to conduct tests using new 3550-3700 MHz equipment from Nokia and Ericsson.

The application calls for conducting tests in indoor and outdoor scenarios in Richardson, Texas. The prototype gear will use 20 MHz of bandwidth; the modulation technique is LTE-TDD using digital OFDM, QPSK, 16 QAM and 64 QAM.

If granted, the experiments would run from Nov. 1, 2017, through May 1, 2018. Each vendor would contribute two prototypes each.

T-Mobile has made no secret that it’s working with equipment vendors to conduct product testing of new 3550-3700 MHz equipment. The trials in Texas will allow the “uncarrier” to test the different units prior to certification.

RELATED: T-Mobile CTO has ‘huge interest’ in 3.5 GHz

CTO Neville Ray was quizzed during the second-quarter earnings conference call about his company’s interest in 2.5 GHz spectrum, and he said T-Mobile has “huge interest” in the 3.5 GHz block, with the 3.5-4 GHz range being the most formative block of spectrum emerging globally for 5G. (For the record, he said he doesn’t think about 2.5 GHz “that much.” T-Mobile and Sprint are reportedly hammering out a merger agreement that may or may not be done by the time third-quarter results are released.)

RELATED: Sprint/T-Mobile announcement could be delayed, but BTIG asks why T-Mobile would rush in

On the regulatory front, T-Mobile filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC in June to amend the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) rules so that the band is more attractive to mobile carriers and better suited for 5G globalization. Indeed, T-Mobile representatives have been meeting with commission staff to discuss the draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order terminating petitions that the commission will consider at its meeting on Tuesday.

T-Mobile has said that it’s generally pleased with the draft NPRM and order, which it says will significantly improve the viability of the band for 5G and provide a more certain licensing environment that will help drive investment.

But it’s disappointed with the treatment of two issues: the potential use of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) throughout the 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band and the change in effective isotropic radiated power limits for CBRS devices. T-Mobile says that rejecting its recommendations, rather than seeking comment on them, is contrary to commission precedent and would prevent development of a complete record on the subject.

T-Mobile also argues that the commission is “simply wrong” in its conclusion that “T-Mobile presents no compelling evidence” for the commission to change its approach regarding designation of the entire band for PAL use.

“Among other things, our Petition was replete with examples of other countries targeting the 3.5 GHz band for 5G operations and arguments regarding global harmonization,” T-Mobile said in its ex parte filing (PDF). In addition, it said the commission’s proposed finding of “no compelling evidence” ignores the fact that responses to petitions for rulemaking are often limited because parties wait until an NPRM is issued to participate in a proceeding. “To ensure a more fully developed record, the public interest favors permitting parties to address these issues in the NPRM,” T-Mobile said.