More High-Band Spectrum for IoT

The FCC adopted a new item in its Spectrum Frontiers proceeding to expand flexible use of millimeter wave (mmW) spectrum at or above 24 GHz.  This spectrum was formerly viewed as unusable for fixed and mobile wireless services, because of its short transmission paths and propagation losses.  However, with recent technological advances, this spectrum can support high-capacity, small cell networks that enable IoT services like machine-to-machine communications, self-driving vehicles, and healthcare devices.      

The Second Report and Order makes an additional 1700 megahertz of mmW spectrum available for flexible use in the 24.25-24.45 GHz and 24.75-25.25 GHz bands and the 47.2-48.2 GHz band.  It also authorizes expanded unlicensed use in the 57-71 GHz band on-board aircraft, clarifies certain Microwave Flexible Use Service performance requirements, and establishes mobile spectrum holding policies for mmW spectrum.

In addition to adopting new rules, the Commission also seeks comment on proposals to expand flexible Fixed Satellite Service use of the 24.75-25.25 GHz band, as well as on licensing and technical rules for several mmW bands.  Comments on the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due January 23, 2018, and reply comments are due February 22, 2018. 

A detailed summary, including a summary of the related Order on Reconsideration and Memorandum Opinion and Order, is available here

This is the second in a series of proceedings intended to make additional high-band spectrum available for mobile use and accelerate 5G deployment.  The Commission adopted new rules in July 2016 opening the 27.5-28.35 GHz, 37-38.6 GHz, and 38.6-40 GHz bands for licensed, flexible use service; the 64-71 GHz band for unlicensed use; and the 37-37.6 GHz band for shared use between commercial and federal users.  The FCC is expected to initiate a third proceeding in the first half of 2018 to evaluate opportunities for flexible use in the 32 GHz, 42 GHz, and 50 GHz bands, as well as review the 26 GHz band.


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