US cable operator Charter Communications requested permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to explore how fixed and mobile 5G service might operate in a new spectrum band: 32GHz.
In a filing with the FCC, Charter asked for the green light to conduct 180 days of fixed wireless access testing in Los Angeles, California starting 1 November. The operator said the experiments will help it “evaluate the use of 32GHz spectrum for its use in point-to-multipoint access network capacity (e.g., rate versus range) and data throughput” and “advance the potential deployment of 5G fixed and mobile services”.
The tests will include point-to-point transmissions from an antenna (pictured) mounted on an 8-foot pole on the roof of a Charter building to a receiver mounted on another Charter building 300 feet away.
Such experiments are not new for Charter, as the operator has also dabbled testing 5G services in the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands. But its decision to look at 32GHz does represent a deviation from a broader industry focus in the US on the 28GHz, 37GHz and 39GHz bands.
In 2016, the FCC opened the 28GHz, 37GHz and 40GHz bands for wireless use, and is set to kick off an auction of 28GHz licenses on 14 November.
Charter was not among the companies listed as applicants to take part in that proceeding. It’s unclear if or when the FCC might bring 32GHz licenses to auction.
The band is currently used by incumbent radio astronomy and earth exploration satellite services, though Charter and other industry players including T-Mobile US have pushed the FCC to open the band for mobile use to create a larger channel of contiguous spectrum for 5G services.Subscribe to our daily newsletter