Verizon, Charter and more applaud FCC’s move to release more high-band spectrum

Charter 5G
Charter has been conducting tests in the millimeter wave bands. (Charter)

Verizon joined rival AT&T in applauding the FCC’s efforts to release more spectrum for 5G, while CTIA also urged the commission to move quickly to auction the spectrum bands that were included in the order the FCC passed today.

The items the FCC adopted early in its marathon meeting today will make available an additional 1700 megahertz of millimeter wave spectrum for terrestrial wireless use and maintain the unlicensed use of the 64-71 GHz band. It’s also modifying Part 15 rules to allow unlicensed operation on board most aircraft during flight in the 57-71 GHz band.

In addition, it reserves spectrum in the 48.2-50.2 GHz and 40-42 GHz bands for satellite use and adjusts the earth station siting rules in core terrestrial wireless bands to provide incentives to site satellite earth stations in less populated areas while continuing to limit the potential for interference of satellite operations to mobile wireless use in these bands.

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The FCC also declined to cap the amount of spectrum in the 24 GHz and 47 GHz bands that a bidder can acquire in an auction and incorporates these two bands into the previously-adopted millimeter spectrum threshold for reviewing proposed secondary market transactions.

The moves were largely embraced by the country’s biggest wireless operators.

Verizon in its public policy blog said today’s Spectrum Frontiers decision expands the amount of high frequency spectrum available for 5G wireless services, “while largely preserving the helpful aspects of the FCC’s groundbreaking July 2016 order. These actions will help ensure that the U.S. maintains its leadership position in 5G.”

T-Mobile SVP of Government Affairs Kathleen O'Brien Ham said T-Mobile looks forward to more licensed spectrum to be identified for terrestrial use in 2018.

Charter also cheered the move for more high band spectrum as well as maintaining the unlicensed allocation of the 64-71 GHz band. The cable company has been conducting tests in the millimeter wave bands and exploring how they can be used to enhance its wireless service. “Charter looks forward to continuing to work with the FCC to adopt spectrum licensing rules that facilitate new entrants in the wireless marketplace,” the company said.

“CTIA applauds the FCC’s efforts to facilitate our 5G future with today’s action on spectrum and infrastructure modernization,” said CTIA Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann in a statement. “We urge the Commission to move quickly to auction the spectrum bands in this order and to rapidly make available additional high-band spectrum for terrestrial mobile broadband.”

RELATED: AT&T calls for auction of 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands by December 2018

AT&T yesterday published a blog saying the commission deserves credit for recognizing the need for spectrum as the foundation for 5G but said the industry urgently needs to get to the next step: auctioning the newly allocated spectrum.

“As an industry, we believe the best timing for auctioning the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands is by December 2018,” wrote Stacey Black, assistant vice president of Federal Regulatory at AT&T. “While we understand that there are challenges for an auction next year, we must find a way to make this happen. This will be the most significant opportunity for the United States to shine as a global leader in 5G network development.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in her prepared statement the U.S. needs to move faster and can start getting something done starting with the 28 GHz band. “Right now, South Korea is working toward an auction of these airwaves by October 2018,” she said. “So here’s my big idea: Let’s go first. Let’s hold our auction before our counterparts in Asia. Let’s be the first in the world. I hope my colleagues will agree to this course.”

At the end of its hours-long meeting Thursday, the FCC took time to contemplate the passing of Vanu Bose, a longtime visionary in the wireless industry who died Nov. 11 at the age of 52. The son of Bose speaker company founder Amar G. Bose, he was the founder and CEO of his own company name Vanu, which provides wireless infrastructure and was the first company to receive certification for software-defined radio from the FCC.

The company also has been sending gear to Puerto Rico to help provide cell phone connectivity there after Hurricane Maria. MIT News reported that he died of a sudden pulmonary embolism.

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