T-Mobile US urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt more flexible antenna standards so it can use mmWave backhaul to support its 600MHz and 5G deployments.
While the operator noted a light licensing policy and wide bandwidths available between 70GHz and 80GHz make the E-band ideal for backhaul, it argued existing antenna standards are too restrictive to enable widespread deployment for LTE and 5G use.
Citing tests conducted with Cergaon Networks, T-Mobile reported physics won’t allow for the use of “small unobtrusive flat panel antennas demanded by landlords and zoning boards because they are unable to meet the stringent cross-polarisation standards set forth in the rules”. However, if the FCC were to relax those rules, T-Mobile said stakeholders would be able to deploy E-band antennas without causing additional interference or blocking other parties from accessing the band.
T-Mobile’s plea comes in support of a waiver request submitted jointly by microwave networking company Aviat Networks and wireless networking company Fastback Networks in 2015. Specifically, those companies asked the FCC to allow smaller E-band antennas with lower minimum gain, higher maximum bandwidth and tweaks to the co-polar and cross-polar discrimination requirements.
Both T-Mobile and AT&T backed the proposal in 2015, but in a fresh filing late last week, the former noted it has renewed interest in the band as a means to provide access to gigabit backhaul for its 600MHz and 5G network rollouts: “High speed backhaul is essential to ensuring that customers continue to enjoy a high quality of service even as they consume more and more data for business, communications, and entertainment purposes.”