Verizon Wireless filed an application with the FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to conduct tests using prototype millimeter wave equipment from Ericsson, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung and Nokia.
The experiments appear to pick up where they left off: Verizon earlier this year was granted permission to conduct these types of tests in Euless, Texas, and South Plainfield, New Jersey, using 28 GHz prototype equipment from these five same vendors. But that application expires August 19, and this latest application (still pending Friday) is due to kick in on August 20 and last until February 20, 2018.
The stated purpose of the operation is exactly the same as last time: to “Understand the characteristics of mmWave operating bands, specifically 28 GHz, including channel bandwidths, and U/L ratios for residential/commercial deployments,” according to the application.
Out in the field, Verizon has started offering fixed 5G wireless services in eight of its planned 11 test markets to “friendly customers.” Speaking at a recent investor event, Ronan Dunne, EVP and group president of Verizon Wireless, said the carrier is testing things like signal propagation and whether customers can successfully self-install their own receiver antenna, and whether that antenna should be on the outside or inside of customers’ windows. Dunne also promised that Verizon would “be first” in the move to mobile 5G services.
He also discussed a demo that Verizon did before Memorial Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the Indy 500. Verizon and Ericsson set up 5G radios around the track and blacked out the windows of a car, mounted a camera on the front of it and gave the professional driver a pair of virtual reality (VR) goggles. The driver used the video feed to steer the car on the track going 60 Mph.
Although transmissions in the higher bands won’t travel anywhere near as far as transmissions in lower bands like 600 MHz and 700 MHz, they do promise to allow carriers to provide much higher speeds and far greater capacity, albeit in smaller coverage areas.
The 28 GHz band has become of particular interest for 5G, and operators around the world are eyeing it. Verizon is gaining access to a lot of 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum via its acquisition of XO Communications and its proposed acquisition of Straight Path Communications.
However, the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) is urging the FCC to deny Verizon’s proposed transaction to transfer the control of Local Multipoint Distribution Service, 39 GHz, 3650-3700 MHz, and common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave licenses from Straight Path to Verizon Communications.
The group says that if approved, the transaction would consolidate enormous amounts of millimeter wave spectrum into the hands of Verizon and would exceed the FCC’s spectrum screen in key local markets. The CCA would rather see Straight Path’s licenses be made available to all carriers through a competitive bidding process.