FCC Relaxes Rules Governing 800 MHz Spectrum
The FCC this week made it easier for carriers to add LTE to their 800 MHz spectrum holdings. Rules concerning the 800 MHz band (CDMA Band Class 0, LTE Band 5) have been in place since 1981 and limit how much power carriers can use to transmit wireless signals across those airwaves. The effect has stymied wide-scale LTE deployments in the 800 MHz band. By relaxing the outdated regulations, the FCC is essentially making it possible for companies that have 800 MHz spectrum to repurpose it for LTE. Specifically, the Commission plans to allow 800 MHz licensees to transmit the same amount of power across the spectrum band, putting it in line with how other, similar spectrum bands are treated. The FCC will demand that carriers take care to prevent interference with public safety's use of 800 MHz spectrum, but the Commission will also eliminate what it calls unnecessary rules and burdens related to application filings and other red tape. Verizon Wireless, which will benefit most from the change, lauded the decision. "The FCC's unanimous adoption today of Cellular Service Reform rules is a big win for wireless consumers," said the company. "Today's order enables Verizon to accelerate the conversion of 850 MHz spectrum from 3G and put it to use for 4G LTE. The upside for consumers is big: Verizon Wireless will be able to provide 4G LTE coverage on cellular spectrum to 20%-30% more of the US geography and also increase peak 4G LTE speeds by as much as 40%." The change also benefits AT&T, though to a lesser degree.
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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency will commence an auction for 28 GHz airwaves as soon as November. Pai expects the spectrum in question will be used for 5G.
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The FCC today said new rule changes should make it easier for people to use consumer-grade wireless signal boosters. Signal boosters general work by gathering and amplifying the existing signals from wireless network operators in environments such as homes, cars, and office buildings.
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A new bipartisan act proposed by Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania aims to ensure the licensed and unlicensed spectrum needed for 5G is available. The Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum, or AIRWAVES Act, explicitly suggests the government free up high-band spectrum via auction in order to lay the groundwork for 5G.
Why AT&T to a lesser degree?