FCC Issues NPRM on Higher Frequency Wireless Spectrum

Recently (October 23, 2015), the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address technology and policy issues for wireless spectrum above 24 GHz frequencies, and, thereby, to clear the regulatory hurdles for development of emerging next-generation mobile broadband technologies, such as the so-called 5G mobile service.  The Order number is FCC 15-138.  The NPRM was adopted by Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel, with Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly approving in part and dissenting in part.

It was previously thought that physical and technical limitations prevented mobile services in frequencies above 24 GHz, however, recent technology developments seem to suggest otherwise.  The NPRM will look at developing the mobile broadband potential for the following spectrum bands:  28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz.   

According to an accompanying FCC press release, “[t]he NPRM proposes to make these bands available using a variety of authorization schemes, including traditional wide area licensing, unlicensed, and shared approach that provides access for both local area and wide area networks.  In addition, the NPRM provides a path for a variety of platforms and uses, including satellite uses, to coexist and expand through market-based mechanisms.  The NPRM seeks extensive comment on the service, licensing, and technical rules for facilitating flexible use in these bands.  Finally, the NPRM seeks comment on other bands above 24 GHz that may be considered in the future.”