Managing the Explosive Demand for 5G Spectrum



The pressure on regulators to make more 5G spectrum available remains at a fever pitch. As the international community prepares for the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019, one of the foci will be satisfying spectrum demands for terrestrial deployment of IMT in large swaths of spectrum in the millimeter-wave bands between 24.25 GHz and 86 GHz. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission continues to consider making a number of the same mmW bands available for flexible mobile and fixed use in support of 5G in its Spectrum Frontiers proceeding, where several gigahertz of mmW spectrum were already designated for such flexible use in a 2016 order. With a new FCC Chairman bent on moving major regulatory items quickly, the United States may again act in advance of the internaitonal community in these other bands. However, at the same time, a number of non-geostationary orbiting satellite constellations are currently being evaluated that are seeking to operate in many of the same spectrum bands under consideration. This puts satellite advocates and terrestrial commercial mobile advocates at odds, both claiming to act in the interests of bringing 5G to end users. Commercial wireless providers emphasize that the introduction of 5G will not only depend on access to mmW spectrum, but also to mid-band spectrum in the range between 3 and 24 GHz. Many countries are already in the processing of making spectrum for 5G available in the lowest portions of this range, but what do 5G advocates see as important candidate bands for new and emerging wireless services and technologies above 6 GHz? The United States recently announced the initiation of an Inquiry proceeding to consider these questions. What are other countries undertaking to ensure they can implement the next generations of wireless? This session will examine the spectrum management challenges that regulators and industry face as they seek to obtain access to sufficient spectrum to meet the exploding demand for wireless capacity that 5G is projected to represent? What role will the spectrum efficiency of new technologies and the ability of different operators to share play in how regulators manage the radio frequency bands that will be vital not only for 5G but may support a variety of other services and applications?


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