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1 November 2022

FCC starts a study of 12.7 GHz spectrum’s potential for future US 5G and 6G

By Wireless Watch Staff

The 12.7 GHz band is the latest piece of spectrum in the sights of the USA’s FCC, in its ongoing quest to free up more capacity for 5G and even 6G.

The regulator has launched an inquiry into the potential use of up to 550 MHz between 12.7 GHz and 13.25 GHz and said this was “the first step in providing for more intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band, unlocking a significant expanse of valuable midband frequencies that may play a key role in delivering on the promise of next-generation wireless services, including 5G, 6G, and beyond”.

This “high midband” spectrum would be “ideally suited for mobile broadband use, as it is already allocated for terrestrial mobile services on a primary basis domestically”, said the FCC. It has extended an existing freeze on applications for new operations in this band while it consults on how to minimize disruption for incumbent users. It will examine options to facilitate sharing or coexistence between old and new users, but also whether it would make more sense to relocate incumbents and “provide a clean slate for more intensive use of some or all of the band” for cellular.

Scott Bergmann, SVP of regulatory affairs at the CTIA, which represents the US operators, said in a statement: “In addition to evaluating spectrum in the 7-16 GHz range, CTIA appreciates the Commission’s continuing efforts to develop a pipeline for licensed, exclusive-use spectrum—particularly in the midband—to support 5G.”

The CTIA has also proposed that the FCC examines the potential to repurpose three blocks of lower midband spectrum in the lower 3 GHz band for cellular services (3.1-3.45 GHz, which is already under study); 4.4-4.94 GHz; and 7.125-8.4 GHz.