MWC22: FCC chair unveils spectrum plan and casts eye to 6G development
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced plans to launch a new spectrum auction in the US this July during her keynote speech at Mobile World Congress.
Rosenworcel also took time at the conference in Barcelona to warn the gathered telecoms industry and press that planning for the next generation of telecoms connectivity – 6G – should start now.
“I’m excited to announce that the US will hold another mid-band spectrum auction. This July we’ll kick off our auction of the 2.5GHz band. This is the single largest swathe of continuous mid-band spectrum we have below 3GHz. The airwaves available from this auction are going to help extend 5G services beyond our most populous cities,” Rosenworcel said.
Rosenworcel acknowledged challenges in delivering spectrum, saying there is a need across the industry to develop more innovative spectrum management policies to overcome this.
She also revealed that the US regulator plans to begin work with federal partners “to find ways to commercialise spectrum and make it available for auction airwaves in the 3.1GHz to 3.45GHz band”.
Rosenworcel became permanent chair of the FCC in October, after holding the position of interim chair since January. She was confirmed by the US Senate in January.
One of her first acts as chair, she said, was to offer mid-band spectrum in the US for 5G uses. “This spectrum is key to delivering on the promise of 5G services and ensuring that it reaches as many people as possible,” she added.
Her keynote marked the first appearance of an FCC chair at MWC since 2019. But unlike her predecessor, Trump-appointed Ajit Pai, Rosenworcel did not discuss the benefits of millimetre wave as a way of brining 5G into the future – instead, opting to focus on mid-band.
She explained: “It offers the ideal blend of capacity and coverage; this spectrum is key to delivering on the promise of 5G services and ensuring that it reaches as many people as possible.”
On 6G, she said it is “early days” and called on the industry to learn from its experiences of rolling out 5G, noting that “wireless service matters for economic and national security.”
Rosenworcel said she is looking ahead to identify airwaves in the 7GHz to 15GHz band, while also investigating the use of ultra-high frequencies, to overcome concerns over spectrum, warning policy makers need to “focus on both transmitting and receiving” in order to “take the next step in innovative spectrum management.”
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