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How FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Sees the 5G Future

- June 20, 2016 - 0 Comments

From Europe to Asia, leading nations are looking to take a leadership position in the next generation of mobile technologies – collectively referred to as “5G”.

Funding research, signing Memoranda of Understanding, and using sports venues to create a platform for national champions, these countries understand that 5G will be an important technology. Each of them wants their economies to be play a leading role in the supply chain.

Here in the US, the fervor for 5G is equally strong, but there is a decidedly more straightforward and pragmatic approach. As highlighted today, in a major speech given by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at the National Press Club, the government’s contribution to 5G is to make significant amounts of radio spectrum available for new 5G technologies, a simple but highly impactful approach to fostering 5G innovation in the United States.

And the FCC Chairman is hoping other countries take note:

Unlike some countries, we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate, and how to allocate spectrum, based on those assumptions…. Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future. We won’t wait for the standards to be first developed in the sometimes arduous standards-setting process or in a government-led activity. Instead, we will make ample spectrum available and then rely on a private sector-led process for producing technical standards best suited for those frequencies and use cases.

That is exactly what the FCC did when it decided to take a leadership role in the development of 4G, and it is following the same playbook with 5G.

Except this time the FCC is moving faster. Its plan to allocate thousands of megahertz of millimeter wave spectrum at 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz for licensed use, and at 64-71 GHz for unlicensed use will have moved from proposal stage to decision in nine short months.

So what do we hope 5G will be and why will it be better than 4G? Well, for starters, 4G is a “one size fits all” broadband access technology. 5G will be an infinitely more flexible set of capabilities that will support everything from low latency, low bandwidth applications to anticipated bandwidth-intensive activities such as virtual reality. In short, the future of wireless is 5G, and with the FCC’s action next month, the US will play a key role in its development.

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