Apple will evaluate millimetre wave (mmWave) technology as part of its planning for future deployments of 5G networks, after being cleared to conduct the tests by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The US regulator granted Apple an experimental mmWave licence, which the vendor requested, Business Insider reported. mmWave technology is designed to enable faster data speeds on mobile networks, and improve the cellular performance on smartphones, and Apple will use the licence to ensure compatability of its iPhone devices with future mobile networks.
In its application to the FCC, Apple explained it was seeking to: “assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum.”
“These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”
The licence will allow the company to test the technology from two locations in California. The testing process will take no longer than one year, according to Apple.
Although 5G standards are yet to be released, operators in the US and beyond are already outlining their paths towards launching the technology, and begun to conduct trials.
AT&T, for example, recently detailed plans to launch 20 networks it said will lay the foundation for 5G during 2017, while rival Verizon agreed a $3.1 billion acquisition of Straight Path Communications, which holds hundreds of mmWave licences in the 39GHz and 28GHz bands – both of which the FCC cleared for use in 5G.
Apple’s move is not a surprise, given its products rely heavily on mobile networks to run.