Tomorrow, the FCC will vote on an item that allocates 1.7 GHz of radio spectrum to be used for 5th Generation (5G) wireless broadband services. Two spectrum bands will be allocated providing 700 MHz in the 24 GHz band and 1 GHz in the 47 GHz band. A year ago, the FCC allocated 11.65 GHz of spectrum with 3.85 GHz of that allocated in the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands. Additional spectrum is still under consideration to be allocated in the future.
The Commission deserves credit for recognizing the need for spectrum as the foundation for 5G, helping the United States maintain its global leadership in the development of next generation wireless services. They realize the challenge of achieving some of the key goals of 5G, such as ultra-high bandwidth, on the order of 20 GB/s, that will allow users to stream 4K video, ultra-low latency that will enable time sensitive communications such as collision avoidance technology; and massive machine-type communications that will automate networks and industrial functions to a degree that we have never seen before. Truly, the promise of 5G is limited only by our imagination.
AT&T is conducting field trials of 5G technology and, so far, the results have been promising. We are working hard with the rest of the wireless industry on developing standards so that our networks and devices provide the best user experience that 5G has to offer. The FCC will play a critical role in these activities as well, and we value their participation.
Now that the Commission has the 5G ball rolling with spectrum allocations, we urgently need to get to the next step – auctioning this newly allocated spectrum so that mobile broadband providers can deploy as quickly as possible. As an industry, we believe the best timing for auctioning the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands is by December 2018. By this time, chipsets and equipment will be commercially available, FCC service rules will have been finalized, and standards will have evolved to a point that permits commercial 5G network deployments in 2019. While we understand that there are challenges for an auction next year, we must find a way to make this happen. This will be the most significant opportunity for the United States to shine as a global leader in 5G network development.