Verizon seeks experimental license to test 37 GHz products

Verizon sign
Verizon holds 500 MHz of 39 GHz spectrum in the market where it wants to conduct the tests. (FierceWireless)

Verizon Wireless is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to use a portion of the 37.6-40 GHz band in part of northwest Arkansas for testing purposes.

As part of the request, the company said it plans to co-develop different healthcare-related use cases and devices with an unnamed corporate partner.

The application doesn’t specify the products to be tested, although it lists Ericsson as supplying three demonstration units and “multiple mobile manufacturers” for supplying 20 demo units. The application seeks a testing schedule of 12 months.

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Verizon explained that the 400 MHz sought under its application is a subset of the 37.6-40 GHz band, which will be auctioned and rebanded as part of Auction 103—the auction that's currently underway. Verizon said while the spectrum is fallow right now, its request will not affect any rights with respect to licenses being auctioned.

Verizon Wireless holds 500 MHz of 39 GHz spectrum in this particular market. However, the licenses are distributed in a way that limits the amount of contiguous spectrum at any location. In 2018, the FCC adopted rules for an incentive auction to repack the spectrum into contiguous blocks, but that process will not be complete for many months.

“Verizon Wireless does not hold 28 GHz spectrum in this market,” the operator told the FCC. “Verizon Wireless initially sought an experimental authorization to operate on a non-interference, indoor basis only in the 28 GHz band. Given objections from the 28 GHz licensee, however, Verizon Wireless hereby seeks an experimental license to test new products on this contiguous 37 GHz spectrum instead.”

Verizon didn’t name the 28 GHz licensee. However, FCC records show that both of the 28 GHz channels for Benton County, Arkansas, are owned by Townes 5G, noted Brian Goemmer, president of Allnet Insights & Analytics.

Verizon said it plans to conduct its testing solely indoors, and all transmissions will be confined within the facility at coordinates provided in the application; testing is not expected to interfere with any operations of a future licensee in the test area.

RELATED: Will carriers bet big at the third mmWave 5G auction?

Auction 103 kicked off December 10, 2019, and offers a total of 3,400 megahertz of spectrum—the most spectrum ever offered in an auction—in the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands, which are being licensed as 100-megahertz blocks covering Partial Economic Areas (PEAs). After 26 rounds, the auction so far has raised over $5.7 billion.

Article updated Jan. 3 with additional information on 28 GHz licenses in Benton County, Arkansas.

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