Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler foresees the 600 MHz band in the US accelerating the rollout of 5G, in a similar way to how 700 MHz did with 4G.
Writing in a blog about the FCC’s flexible approach to spectrum regulation, Wheeler said: “For example, the timing of the incentive auction makes the 600 MHz band a prime candidate for deployment of a wide-area 5G coverage layer.”
The incentive auction, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2016, had faced legal challenge from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which lost its case in June.
“In much the same way that 700 MHz paved the way for America’s world-leading deployment of 4G, so could 600 MHz accelerate US deployment of 5G,” wrote Wheeler enthusiastically.
The FCC chief also talked about the role of higher frequency bands in 5G. The commission took a first step in autumn of 2014 when it adopted a notice of inquiry about expanding the use of higher frequency bands for 5G. It expects to follow the notice of inquiry with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the use of higher-frequency bands for mobile and other uses later this year.
The NPRM will focus on a regulatory framework that will maximise the use of higher-frequency bands by a variety of providers, including mobile, fixed, or satellite, said Wheeler.
He anticipated the FCC “will explore a range of regulatory strategies depending on the specifics of each proposed higher-frequency band, including licensed, unlicensed, and hybrid shared models”.
Finally, the FCC chief talked about the upcoming 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), where the US will support harmonised international spectrum allocations for mobile broadband, he said.
Wheeler said the aim should be to adopt a plan for identifying spectrum for mobile technologies in higher-frequency bands with the aim of reaching decisions at the next WRC, which is expected to be held in 2019.
The spectrum bands backed by the US for WRC-19 include 27.5-29.5 GHz, 37-40.5 GHz, 47.2-50.2 GHz, 50.4-52.6 GHz, and 59.3-71 GHz.
The FCC will consider these bands, or a subset of the bands, in further detail in an upcoming notice of proposed rulemaking, said Wheeler.