January 27, 2020 – The FCC today gave Google, Sony and two other companies the greenlight to open the 3.5 GHz band to commercial use. The 3.5 GHz band could speed up 4G communication and enhance 5G networks, helping devices reach faster data speeds in the US and opening up other development possibilities, potentially for our industry.
The FCC designated Google, Sony, CommScope and Federated Wireless, Inc. Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators (SAS) Administrators. They’re now authorized to make a slice of the 3.5 GHz band available for commercial purposes, so the private sector should finally have access to the mid-range spectrum for 5G networks.
“The FCC has made it a priority to free up mid-band spectrum for advanced wireless services like 5G. And today, I’m pleased to announce the latest step to achieve that priority: the approval of four systems that will enable the 3.5GHz band to be put to use for the benefit of American consumers and businesses,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a press release (sorry about the pdf).
Previously, according to Venture Beat, the band was used by the US Navy’s naval radar system, which used some of the spectrum, some of the time. The FCC voted to free up a piece of the 3.5GHz spectrum in 2015, as reported by Engadget. It was a tough road as detailed in Light Reading, as the FCC tried to accommodate the Navy and make room for much-desired commercial opportunities.
Meanwhile, in EMEA, commercial companies already have access to the mid-range band with the commensurate benefits. Now things should move forward in the US to what the FCC is calling “full commercial deployment in the 3.5 GHz band”. The agency also calls this action “advancing 5G leadership” (without a trace of irony).
This is not entirely new. The FCC approved these SAS Administrators for initial commercial deployments last year. Today’s action allows for full commercial use of this critical mid-band spectrum. It’s also the latest in a series of spectrum announcements designed to get the US caught up. In November, the Chairman created (more) controversy when he announced that the C-Band spectrum (used in part for broadcasting) would be auctioned off (motivating this thoughtful analysis by my colleague James E. O’Neal at TV Technology: Will C-Band survive the latest spectrum grab?)
Here’s the FCC’s public announcement for today’s move if you want to read the primary source content for yourself.
Trying to avoid RF Interference? Here’s classic advice from Bill Whitlock that still holds up.