FCC To Vote on Opening Spectrum for 5G Networks

Published: June 20, 2016 10:05 PM /



FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced an upcoming vote on a proposal to open higher frequencies of the spectrum for 5G wireless networks. The scheduled date for the vote is July 14. Wheeler stated that if the other commissioners of the FCC vote to approve his proposal, "the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications." Wheeler also stated, "unlike some countries, we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate and how to allocate spectrum, based on those assumptions." Wheeler also stated that 5G networks will bring faster Internet to locations where it's too costly to install fiber.

Mobile phone companies have insisted that the next generation of wireless networks need to be 10 to 100 times faster to accommodate technologies like remotely controlling machines and virtual surgery. If the proposal is adopted, the FCC will make spectrum available for use in next generation networks, but the development of technical standards for those networks will be led by the private sector.

Verizon and AT&T have stated they will begin 5G trials in 2017. Wheeler expects large-scale 5G networks to be deployed by 2020. Qualcomm has stated its support for the proposal to open up spectrum for 5G networks. Meredith Attwell Baker, CEO of the wireless trade group CTIA, has called on the FCC to streamline rules for adding wireless infrastructure. Baker stated that 5G rules must, "strike a reasonable balance for licensed and unlicensed use while promoting investment with clear service and licensing rules."

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel spoke earlier in the month about a worldwide race to deploy 5G networks. South Korea and Japan intend to offer 5G service by the time they each host the Olympics in 2018 and 2020. In addition to Japan and South Korea, China and the EU are also conducting research relating to upcoming 5G networks. "The race is on," Rosenworcel stated, "It’s one we want to win."

What do you think of this announcement? Do you think that going ahead with an auction without wider studying is the right choice? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.