The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to open nearly 11 gigahertz of high-frequency spectrum for the roll out of “5G” mobile, flexible and fixed-use broadband wireless that may be 100 times faster than 4G.
Regulators on July 14 approved the set-aside of a large portion of the airwaves spectrum to allow the United States to be the first country to launch so-called fifth generation (5G) blazingly-fast wireless services.
Many analysts thought that the 5G race would be won by the $1.5 billion joint government effort called the 5G Creative Mobile Strategy, launched in 2014 by South Korea and Japan, with the goal of deployment for their respective 2018 Winter Olympics and 2020 Summer Olympics.
Unlike Asia and Europe, the United States never formed an official, government-sanctioned 5G development effort, preferring to rely on the entrepreneurial spirit of private enterprises and academic research.
New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering launched a dedicated program in August 2012 that quickly developed the millimeter-wave technologies and other research deemed crucial to 5G deployment.
U.S. corporations, such as Verizon Communications Inc (VZ:NYSE) and AT&T Inc (T:NYSE), moved quickly to embrace 5G networks that promised speeds at least 10 times and perhaps 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks.
According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the U.S. will be “the first country in the world to identify and open up vast amounts of high-frequency spectrum for 5G applications. The big game-changer is that we are using much higher-frequency bands than previously thought viable for flexible uses, including mobile.”
Verizon and AT&T have said they will begin deploying 5G trials in 2017, and the first commercial deployments at scale are expected in 2020, Wheeler said. T Mobile US, a unit of Deutsche Telecom (DTE:ETR), and Sprint Corp (S:NYSE) are also undertaking trials.
The FCC said the key to 5G is developing new rules that balance spectrum use between new wireless services, satellite operations and federal government use. Boeing Corp (BA:NYSE) told the FCC last week that the company and “the rest of the satellite industry have supported common-sense rules that would promote true sharing.”
The FCC will make spectrum available and rely on a process led by the private sector for producing technical standards.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commented, “We are on the cusp of cars that drive themselves, streets that can be safer, emergency services that are more effective, healthcare that is more personalized, and more capability across the board because we are more connected.”