Verizon seeks TPx relocation to pave way for 5G at 28 GHz in Bay Area

Verizon sign from MWCA
Verizon supports 31 GHz field testing by TPx Communications. (FierceWireless)

Verizon has asked TPx Communications to move off a 28 GHz link in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose basic trading area (BTA) so that it can deploy a 5G network there.

TPx is asking the FCC for a Special Temporary Authority (STA) in order to perform a 31 GHz field trial in Fremont and Milpitas, Calif. The application states that Verizon is planning its 5G network deployment in the LMDS A-block and is requesting that TPx relocate. Verizon holds a 31 GHz license in the BTA from its acquisition of LMDS licenses from Nextlink Wireless.

In a letter (PDF) accompanying the application, Verizon says that a successful test will permit TPx to relocate its current link in the 28 GHz band into the 31 GHz band under a long-term spectrum lease. Verizon Wireless states that it is the current licensee planning a 5G network deployment in the LMDS A-block.

The application requests an operation start date of April 16, with an end date of Aug. 16. Cambridge Broadband Networks is listed as the equipment manufacturer.

Verizon has said it plans to launch a 5G service in three to five markets this year, but Sacramento so far is the only market that’s been announced and that launch is targeted for the second half of 2018.

RELATED: Editor’s Corner—How the city of Sacramento got to 5G, and what it means for the rest of the U.S.

Verizon is by far the largest holder of 28 GHz spectrum in the U.S., and its accumulation of millimeter wave spectrum has riled the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), which has been arguing that allowing the two biggest carriers to control the lion’s share of prime millimeter wave spectrum is bad for competition. So far, the FCC has mostly disagreed, recently denying CCA’s request to stay a Jan. 18 order approving the transfer of Straight Path licenses to Verizon.

Last year, Verizon Wireless and XO Holdings agreed to transfer control of 92 LMDS, nine 39 GHz, two 3650-3700 MHz and 50 common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave licenses held by Nextlink. Verizon already was leasing spectrum from Nextlink associated with its LMDS and 39 GHz licenses, and the FCC found the transaction would allow Verizon to continue advancing 5G for the public interest.

CCA is also urging the commission to reverse the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s order approving the AT&T/FiberTower transaction and to instead auction FiberTower’s licenses. CCA argues that because the licenses were not built out per the FCC's rules, they should be returned to the FCC and re-auctioned.