July 6, 2017 —
T-Mobile, which has recently laid claim to the 600 MHz band for 5G, has set its sights on including 3.5 GHz in with the 5G spectrum ecosystem. The carrier has petitioned the FCC to look at modifying the rules governing 3550-3700 MHz, known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service to better facilitate 5G technologies.
T-Mobile’s Petition of Rule Making asks the FCC to auction all 150 megahertz of the spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to the Priority Access License (PAL) licensees while maintaining opportunities to licensed-by-rule licensees using the spectrum access system.
In a blog post this week, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made the case that the FCC needs to look to more bands other than the millimeter band to achieve the promise of 5G, and he said 3.5 GHz fits that bill.
“3.5 GHz Is great mid-band spectrum for 5G. As the current FCC has recognized, a balanced spectrum portfolio, including mid-band spectrum – between 1 GHz and 6 GHz – is essential to ensure the United States has complete 5G networks,” Ray wrote. “It has better coverage characteristics than high-band spectrum, meaning that it can help deliver the promise of 5G to rural areas.”
The Petition notes that while 5G technologies are expected to use 40-50 megahertz channels, the FCC’s CBRS rules limit PALS to 70 megahertz per market. That licensing structure would limit the number of carriers to one per market, which would strip OEMs of the impetus to make handsets for the band, T-Mobile said.
“In order to optimize the 3.5 GHz band for 5G, there must be an opportunity for multiple carriers to aggregate larger bandwidths,” T-Mobile writes.
Additionally, the 3.5 GHz band is adjacent to spectrum that has been proposed for 5G in Sen. Thune’s MOBILE NOW legislation (between 3100 MHz and 3550 MHz and 3700-4200 MHz). Ray notes that CBRS coupled with the Mobile NOW spectrum would equal 1100 megahertz of spectrum, which he refers to as a “great start.”