Speaking at the Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Spain, U.S. FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that the commission is prepared to quickly make 5G-ready wireless spectrum available through auctions. The only hitch: Pai says that Congressional action by May 13 will be necessary to avoid delaying the 5G rollout process.
Telecom industry leaders have identified certain chunks of radio spectrum as critically important for 5G, engineering upcoming 5G chipsets and antennas specifically around these radio frequencies. Mid-frequency bands or “mid-bands” include both 3.5GHz and 3.7-4.2GHz ranges, while high-frequency or millimeter wave (mmWave) bands include 24-37GHz ranges.
Pai addressed each of the bands at MWC, beginning by noting that the FCC has already allocated 150Mhz of industry-shared spectrum within the 3.5GHz band, thereby allowing 5G devices and other applications to use it. Since the telecom industry identified the large swath of nearby 3.7 to 4.2GHz spectrum as important in empowering 5G phones and computers, Pai said that the FCC plans to open those frequencies to 5G: “In the coming months, I intend to propose the next steps needed to make 3.7 to 4.2Ghz spectrum available for commercial terrestrial use.”
Higher-frequency radio spectrum is considered to be particularly important for fixed 5G — wireless broadband in homes and offices. So far, Pai noted that the FCC has already allocated spectrum in the 24-47GHz mmWave ranges for terrestrial use, setting the stage for 5G experimentation. Three days ago, the FCC granted Samsung the world’s first approval for 28GHz base…