US cable company Charter Communications revealed it is testing fixed-wireless 5G on mid-band spectrum in multiple locations across the country.
The company, which is scheduled to launch a wireless MVNO offering on Verizon’s network later this year, noted in a blog post it is “actively developing and testing” fixed-wireless 5G at 3.5GHz.
In a statement to Mobile World Live, a Charter representative declined to provide specifics but said the company is sizing up “a number of wireless technologies in order to gain better insight into the capabilities of 5G and the ways in which the technology can be best incorporated alongside our existing network”. Charter noted in its blog it is testing 5G technologies in several cities: Orlando, Florida; Reno, Nevada; Clarksville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Bakersfield, California; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While wireless operators Verizon and AT&T have honed in on mmWave spectrum, Charter said it believes mid-band spectrum could prove more suitable for rural broadband because mmWave is “not able to cover the long distances required to deliver broadband in many rural areas – particularly in places with a lot of trees and foliage.”
The cable company added small cell networks “may not ever make sense in rural areas given the relatively low population density there”.
Pushing for parity
In order to reach rural areas and promote broadband competition, Charter argued regulatory parity for wireless and wireline infrastructure is critical.
“Policies or regulations that place more costs and burdens on one side or the other undermine competition, which ultimately harms consumers, innovation and investment,” Charter said: “Smart, technology neutral policies, coupled with appropriate streamlining measures, will advance these efforts and we look forward to working with policymakers to get it right.”