News Feature | October 23, 2018

The Week In 5G: 10/23/2018 – FCC Plans To Issue County-Sized Licenses In 3.5 GHz Band, Huawei Confirms Foldable 5G Phone

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to amend the framework governing the issuance of spectrum licenses in the 3.5 GHz band by granting them on a county-by-county basis, rather than the smaller "Census Tract" areas sought by wireless internet service providers (WISPs), or the larger "Partial Economic Areas" sought by the mobile industry, according to Forbes.

The Obama-era FCC preferred Census Tract licenses so that industrial and power plants can set up their own wireless networks to support “smart factory” operations without relying on commercial carriers.

However, carriers and the CTIA trade group argued that there will be too much interference because airwaves will overlap. Instead, and in order to support their 5G deployments, they have been pushing for FCC to change the licensing scheme based on the larger Partial Economic Areas, which include several counties each.

FCC's current proposal to license by county represents a compromise between the two competing interests.

As Forbes' Fred Campbell puts it, "The FCC chose to license the band using county areas because counties are neither too small to enable efficient mobile deployments nor too large to preclude efficient WISP deployments. Just as mobile providers were rightfully concerned that the previous FCC’s choice of Census Tracts was biased toward the use cases favored by WISPs, the current FCC is concerned that choosing Partial Economic Areas could tip the scales improperly toward mobile use cases."

The new plan "does not favor any one use or favor any class of user, which was a flaw in the last administration's rules," O'Rielly said in an email to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Everyone will be able to bid in an auction that will ensure that the spectrum goes to its best use."

Applying for key spectrum licenses won't be a problem for India, as the government this week announced that it will de-license 5.1-5.3 Ghz and 5.7-5.8 Ghz for WiFi, and 5.3-5.7 Ghz for 5G services. Freeing spectrum is designed to facilitate the development of the country's 5G ecosystem.

"No licence shall be required under indoor and outdoor environment to establish, maintain, work, possess or deal in any wireless equipment for the purpose of low power wireless access systems, including radio local area networks operating in the frequency band 5150-5250 MHz; 5250-5350 MHz; 5470-5725 MHz; and 5725-5875 MHz," the government notification said, according to Economic Times.

India has tapped Huawei to launch 5G trials ahead of a nationwide commercial 5G rollout in 2020.

Huawei CEO Richard Yu this week confirmed that the Chinese company is developing not just a foldable phone, but one with 5G connectivity.

According to T3, at the recent launch of Huawei's flagship Mate 20 Pro smartphone, Yu said, "We are working on foldable phones. Foldable 5G phones."

Both Huawei and Samsung are rumored to launch their respective foldable phones in early 2019. Although not foldable, Xiaomi will unveil what the company claims is the world's first true 5G phone this week.

Related, Xiaomi has picked Keysight Technologies to supply it with 5G network emulation solutions to accelerate development of its 5G NR mobile devices.

"Xiaomi is committed to delivering cutting-edge R&D innovation and technology," said Zhang Lei, senior director of Xiaomi Corp., reported Total Telecom. "Leveraging Keysight's 5G network emulation solutions will enable us to greatly accelerate development of our 5G mobile devices and establish a leadership position in the industry."

Xiaomi is one of 19 OEMs expected to launch phones with Qualcomm's 5G modem. At the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong this week, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said "at least two major flagships" with 5G radio are coming next year. Amon said the first will arrive some time within the first half of the year, and the other during the holiday season, though he did not name the manufacturers, according to Engadget.

Qualcomm also announced a 25 percent smaller version of its QTM052 mmWave antenna module to be used for 5G connectivity in conventional form factor smartphones.

In other news, Samsung and NEC announced a collaboration to develop and market next-generation telecommunications base stations for mobile phone carriers in the U.S. and Japanese markets, reported Japan Times. Samsung will sell 5G products to NTT Docomo Inc., while NEC will offer base stations for clients outside Japan for the first time.