FCC’s O’Rielly Cites “Commission Ineptitude” If U.S. is Late on 5G

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The FCC took steps to free up more spectrum above 24 GHz for broadband; Commissioners are keenly aware the U.S. is in a worldwide race to deploy 5G first. This high-frequency spectrum will support innovative new uses enabled by fiber-fast wireless speeds and extremely low latency, according to the agency.  

“I will not let the U.S. lose the 5G race due to Commission ineptitude,” said Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, as he voted for the changes yesterday. The FCC needs to keep working on making other spectrum bands available as well, he said, adding he hopes to follow-up with an item for a vote in the first half of next year.

Continuing with the 5G race theme, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel urged colleagues to commit to deadlines. “We are not moving fast enough,” she said, saying the agency should hold its 28 GHz band spectrum auction “before our counterparts in Asia” hold theirs.  

Commissioner Ajit Pai would like to “move forward with a high-band spectrum auction in 2018,” but can’t until Congress fixes the upfront payment problem. Inside Towers reported the issue is the agency can’t find a commercial bank that meets its requirements to hold upfront auction payments and would like the funds to be held by the U.S. Treasury. Bills pending in Congress would authorize the change.  

Wireless Infrastructure Association President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein said: “By freeing up additional spectrum in conjunction with streamlined infrastructure deployment measures, the Commission has better enabled the wireless industry to continue to deploy 5G mobile networks. We applaud efforts by the FCC to continue its work to ensure a healthy amount of spectrum is in the pipeline and that deployment-inhibiting infrastructure rules continue to be adjusted to speed deployment and encourage competition.”

Specifically, the item adopted yesterday would:

  • Make available an additional 1700 megahertz of millimeter wave (mmW) spectrum for terrestrial 5G wireless use;
  • Maintain the unlicensed use of the 64-71 GHz band, and modify Part 15 rules to allow unlicensed operation on board most aircraft during flight in the 57-71 GHz band;
  • Maintain spectrum in the 48.2-50.2 GHz and 40-42 GHz bands for satellite use;
  • Adjust 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; and
  • Decline to cap the amount of spectrum in the 24 GHz and 47 GHz bands that a bidder can acquire in an auction, and incorporate these two bands into the previously-adopted mmW spectrum threshold for reviewing proposed secondary market transactions.

In addition, the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

  • Proposes to allow more flexible FSS (fixed-satellite service) use of the 24.75-25.25 GHz band;
  • Seeks comment on another option for terrestrial mmW licensees to meet performance obligations, which could accommodate IoT deployments and other innovative services; and
  • Proposes to eliminate the cap on the amount of spectrum in the 28, 37, and 39 GHz bands that a bidder can acquire in an auction.

November 17, 2017

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