The US Federal Communications Commission adopted rules for high-frequency spectrum which it said “set a strong foundation for the rapid advancement to next-generation 5G networks and technologies in the US”.
The regulator also said it is the first country in the world to make this spectrum available for next-generation wireless services. Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, said that the move repeats the “proven formula” which gave the US a strong position in 4G: “One, make spectrum available quickly and in sufficient amounts; two, encourage and protect innovation-driving competition; and three, stay out of the way of market-driven, private sector technological development”.
The rules are designed to balance different spectrum access approaches, including exclusive use, shared access, and unlicensed access, in order to meet a range of needs and use cases. The FCC also adopted “other flexible service and technical rules to allow new technologies and innovations to evolve and flourish without needlessly prescriptive regulations”.
Indeed, Wheeler pointed out that the FCC is “not prognosticating” about technology rules. “We are setting flexible rules that will allow the market to best determine how the technology will evolve, without having to ask our permission,” he said.
Some 11GHz of spectrum is being opened up, with 3.85GHz of licensed and 7GHz of unlicensed frequencies, across the 28GHz, 37GHz and 39GHz bands, as well as new unlicensed bands at 64GHz-71GHz. Wheeler said that the use of higher bands opens much bigger chunks of spectrum, which in turn enables more traffic to be carried – “we’re talking about fiber-like capacity to wireless users”.
The Commission also said it has “struck a balance between new wireless services, current and future fixed satellite service operations, and federal uses”.
And Wheeler also pointed out the need for security to be “addressed during the testing phase for the entire 5G ecosystem”.
“We anticipate that a continuous dialogue between the FCC, industry, and standards bodies will stimulate industry development of a security framework for 5G and IoT that will evolve to accommodate new functions and security threats,” he said.