The US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opens up a further 1700 MHz of spectrum in the mmWave range, upping the total to 12 550 MHz for future 5G usage in the USA.

The ambitious 5G requirements for high-speed and low latency need lots of bandwidth to fulfill their pledge. 5G asks for much more than the typical 20 MHz wireless channel bandwidth of LTE. Certain 5G applications may even demand a very-wide radio channel bandwidth of up to 500 MHz. That calls for more new, unused spectrum, particularly if 5G’s higher capacity goals are to be met. Yet there’s not much free spectrum left below 6 GHz. To overcome this bottleneck, dynamic sharing of spectrum in this lower frequency range holds a promise, as does the mmWave range, where abundant free blocks of frequency still reside.

mmWave radio solutions require very high computing performance to run the modem and baseband functionality of 5G equipment and endpoints. This is particularly challenging for mobile devices (endpoints) running on batteries where power consumption needs to be as low as possible.

U.S. mmWave bands now add up to 12.55 GHz

In its latest move, the FCC displays confidence that chip technology will be ready to handle the mmWave challenge by the time 5G commercial systems begin to roll out. In addition to almost 11 GHz of total bandwidth the FCC made available in July 2016, it has now added a further 1.7 GHz, or 1700 MHz, for future 5G wireless communications and services in the mmWave range The new bands are located at 24 GHz (two bands here: 24.25 to 24.45 and 24.75 to 25.25 GHz) and at 47 GHz (47.2 to 48.2 GHz). That brings the current total bandwidth available in the mmWave range for 5G in the USA to 12.55 GHz.

Note, this is all about spectrum allocation in the mmWave range. The FCC has not yet set a date for auctioning these allocated mmWave bands. The US carrier Verizon, who already holds spectrum in the 28 GHz band, hopes to begin the commercial roll-out of fixed “pre-5G” services in 2018. So the pressure is mounting for auctioning mmWave frequencies. Although the FCC has not announced any dates, industry experts expect the mmWave auction to take place by December 2018.


FCC news release


Light Reading news analysis by Dan Jones

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