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FCC to examine 12.7 GHz as potential 5G/6G band

New FCC proceeding looks at opening up to 550 megahertz of spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission is forging ahead with identifying potential new spectrum to repurpose for cellular systems and has launched a new inquiry into the use of up to 550 megahertz of spectrum at 12.7 to 13.25 GHz.

“The FCC expects that this inquiry is the first step in providing for more intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band, unlocking a significant expanse of valuable mid-band frequencies that may play a key role in delivering on the promise of next-generation wireless services, including 5G, 6G, and beyond,” the agency said.

The 12-13 GHz range falls into what some call the “high midband”, and the FCC said the band under consideration is “believed to be ideally suited for mobile broadband use as it is already allocated for terrestrial mobile services on a primary basis domestically.” The agency extended an existing freeze on applications for new operations in the band and is taking comment on how to avoid disruption to incumbents, facilitate sharing or coexistence, or whether incumbents should be relocated “to provide a clean slate for more intensive use of some or all of the band.”

“We commend the FCC for taking this step to identify opportunities for use of the 13 GHz band for commercial mobile broadband, and we thank the Chairwoman for her leadership on this issue,” said CTIA SVP of Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann. “In addition to evaluating spectrum in the 7-16 GHz range, CTIA appreciates the Commission’s continuing efforts develop a pipeline for licensed, exclusive-use spectrum—particularly in the mid-band—to support 5G. CTIA looks forward to working with the Commission toward Congressional action on a future pipeline to support rapidly growing needs and capture 5G’s potential.”

CTIA, in a recent report by Accenture, also has suggested that the federal government look at repurposing three blocks of lower-midband spectrum — the lower 3 GHz band (3.1-3.45 GHz, which is already under consideration), the 400 megahertz in the 4.4-4.94 GHz band and the 400 megahertz in the 7.125 and 8.4 GHz band — that are believed to have “the greatest potential for 5G expansion” and should therefore, it says, be opened up and allocated for cellular use.

Looking for more information on spectrum issues, spectrum sharing and RF challenges in 5G systems? Check out our recent webinar featuring Anritsu and LitePoint, and download the free accompanying editorial special report.