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FCC Analyzing Wireless Spectrum For 5G Networks

Numerous businesses and government organizations have been deliberating on the development of 5G networks for some time now. Not much has been decided for the new 5G networks, but the FCC is beginning to close in on an exact 5G standard.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced in a document published on the FCC website that the agenct is considering the use of a wide 200 MHz spectrum on the 3.5 GHz band for 5G networks. The 3.5 GHz band is key to the FCC’s plans to improve mobile networks inside of the United States, because it is seldom used and distant from other heavily used bands. This will help avoid interference from other radio transmissions.

"Our 5G proposal is the final piece in the spectrum trifecta of low-band, mid-band, and high-band airwaves that will open up unprecedented amounts of spectrum, speed the rollout of next generation wireless networks, and re-define network connectivity for years to come. I’m confident these actions will lead to a cornucopia of unanticipated innovative uses, and generate tens of billions of dollars in economic activity," said Wheeler.

Due to the wide availability of the 3.5 GHz band, it is feasible for the FCC to allot a wide spectrum range of 200 MHz to 5G networks, whereas current mobile networks are limited to a 5-20 MHz range. This will aid in the FCC’s goal of developing extraordinarily high-speed mobile networks, as the wider spectrum allows companies to transmit larger amounts of data to individual devices.

“The next generation of wireless must be like mobile fiber – and that means speeds 10 to 100 times faster than today,” said Wheeler.

Exactly how fast 5G will be is still undecided, but we do have a rough range for what to expect. Current 4G LTE data rates peak at 100 Mbps, so going by Wheeler’s statement, we can expect 5G to have peak data rates of at least 1,000 Mbps, and it could reach as high as 10,000 Mbps. Speeds of 10,000 Mbps are unlikely, but gigabit cellular networks are quite plausible. We have reason to believe that some companies are already developing cellular antennas capable of gigabit data rates in anticipation of 5G.

"The ability to use this high-frequency spectrum opens much bigger chunks of spectrum. Current blocks of licensed low-band spectrum are usually 5-10 MHz in width. With 5G, however, we are looking at blocks of at least 200 MHz in width. This will allow networks to carry much more traffic per user – gigabits of throughput instead of megabits," said Wheeler.

You might question if there is any need for data rates anywhere near one gigabit, but 5G is about more than just fast Internet. It is also about supporting a wide array of new devices and connecting people and objects to the network that currently aren’t.

Come July 14, the FCC plans to vote to open vast amounts of spectrum specifically for the use of 5G. It also plans to open up an enormous 28 GHz of spectrum for the free and independent development of new networking technologies. If passed, we will likely see the FCC and other parties take action to define 5G around this new spectrum in the coming months.

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  • falchard
    What is this <mod edit> The FCC is deliberating on things they were enacted to deliberate on instead of enforcing censorship when they have no actual authority to do so?

    <Watch your language>
    Reply
  • mrmez
    I get technology has to keep advancing, but given the 100Mb/s+ speeds of 4G, whats the point of having 500Mb/s? on 5G when your provider can still only provide 5Mb/s most of the day.
    Reply
  • Beholder88
    This is nothing but good news. As stated, this will allow the future of mobile networks to approach something more like fiber and provide speeds that are unheard of today on a wireless network. Not only speed, but reliability and consistency will follow. We may not have a "need" for 500Mb+ transfer speeds, but opening up that bandwidth will give more customers higher speeds and reduce congestion on existing mobile networks.
    Reply
  • problematiq
    18155869 said:
    I get technology has to keep advancing, but given the 100Mb/s+ speeds of 4G, whats the point of having 500Mb/s? on 5G when your provider can still only provide 5Mb/s most of the day.

    A large reason is for "The Internet of 'Feces' <mod edit>" (IoT/IoS) they are expecting with 5G to connect cars, roads, your fridge, dogs chew toy, ect. sadly that dogs toy one isn't even a joke. Of course it's still in planning so don't expect 5G in the next 2 years. But you are right, the ISP's are not known for quickly updating (or ever updating) their backbone. In the ISP's defense...ish the US is really large area to cover.

    <Watch your language> I didn't coin the phrase but whatever... Fine.
    Reply
  • danlw
    Great news! Faster speeds means less network congestion, and that means higher data caps. Maybe once 5G is widely available, data plans will start in the 10GB/mo range (hopefully more). Maybe further down the road wireless data could actually be a feasible affordable replacement for wired internet in areas that don't have fiber. (Much the same way cell phones became a feasible affordable replacement to land line telephones)
    Reply
  • jungleboogiemonster
    The spectrum being allocated by the FCC is in a higher bandwidth range than 4G, which means decreased distances and building penetration. Unless additional cell sites are used there will be more dead spots and rural areas will once again be left without service.
    Reply
  • problematiq
    18157910 said:
    The spectrum being allocated by the FCC is in a higher bandwidth range than 4G, which means decreased distances and building penetration. Unless additional cell sites are used there will be more dead spots and rural areas will once again be left without service.

    You are correct. They are expecting with 5G that you are going to see access points being deployed in a more dense network. they are also expecting it will be more of a metro network more than anything so out here in the rural's people won't see a change. I've heard some say maybe deployed in street lamps?
    Reply
  • targetdrone
    18157737 said:
    18155869 said:
    I get technology has to keep advancing, but given the 100Mb/s+ speeds of 4G, whats the point of having 500Mb/s? on 5G when your provider can still only provide 5Mb/s most of the day.

    A large reason is for "The Internet of Sh!t" (IoT/IoS) they are expecting with 5G to connect cars, roads, your fridge, dogs chew toy, ect. sadly that dogs toy one isn't even a joke. Of course it's still in planning so don't expect 5G in the next 2 years. But you are right, the ISP's are not known for quickly updating (or ever updating) their backbone. In the ISP's defense...ish the US is really large area to cover.

    IoT will be the death of us.

    There IS a reason why the Galactica had manual, un-networked toilets and water faucets. Now the Cylons(or Chinese/Russian Hackers) will be able to shut down our power gird because someones chew toy didn't get the latest security patch, likely because the manufacture did the Android thing and never intended to issue future security updates.

    Reply
  • Matt_550
    At this rate mobile internet will be faster then home internet. Internet providers better get on the bus and beef up their networks. If they do not I think more people may investigate getting wifi through their mobile service provider.
    Reply
  • canoeguy1
    3.5 GHz frequencies aren't very practical for macro cell deployment. The attenuation from interfering objects is too high, and the range is too short. It sounds like 5G will depend almost purely on small cells. That works fine in urban cores, but it means that suburbs and rural areas may never see it. That includes freeways and any high-speed road, where handoff between small cells doesn't make sense. Also, a high density of small cells means a huge backhaul problem. You have connect all those cells with fiber.
    Reply