Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi dismissed the negative impact of delays in regulators approving 3.5GHz deployments in the US, arguing it had enabled development of a robust equipment and device ecosystem for the band.

The executive told Mobile World Live he expects final approval for deployments this month, after extended federal reviews resulted in the process being held up for more than a year.

At a meeting later this month, members of the Federal Communications Commission are scheduled to vote on a proposal to commence an auction of licensed spectrum in the band in mid-2020, which would clear the way for commercial deployments. The band represents a key opportunity for operators to access critical mid-band spectrum favoured for 5G, which is in short supply in the country.

Tarazi explained a roughly 18-month delay in the decision-making process had allowed the market to mature to the point where there are now more than ten handsets, 40 infrastructure providers and 30 customers “ready to launch” once licences are issued. “So what we’ve been able to do is continue to build momentum despite the delay.”

Customer base
Federated Wireless is one of three companies certified to provide a Spectrum Access System to prevent interference between new and incumbent users of the 3.5GHz band, which is designated as shared spectrum in the country.

Tarazi noted Verizon had signed up as a customer, with the operator seeking to use the band to expand its mobile capacity in dense urban areas. Federated Wireless is also working with big names including Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung on a series of projects spanning urban and rural markets in 36 states, exploring use cases spanning smart cities, asset tracking, venue connectivity and fixed wireless access.

He also highlighted private LTE as another key application, noting Wi-Fi provider Boingo Wireless aims to use 3.5GHz to deploy private networks and neutral host connectivity in airports.