In a move to expand the spectrum available for wireless broadband services, the FCC has announced a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comments on using “mid-band” spectrum, identifying 3.7 to 4.2, 5.925 to 6.425 and 6.425 to 7.125 GHz. The NOI asks for comments on other non-federal frequencies between 3.7 and 24 GHz that might be suitable for what the FCC termed “expanded flexible use.”

Arguably, the mid-band spectrum is the most technically viable for the initial deployment of mobile 5G services.

The NOI may be downloaded from the FCC’s website. Comments are due by October 2, and responses to the initial comments are due by November 1, 2017.

In a press release, the FCC said it is seeking input on the following questions:

How can the Commission best provide for flexible use of these bands to allow the introduction of additional fixed and mobile wireless services?

How can the Commission protect existing services against harmful interference?

What are the appropriate authorization mechanisms to maximize efficiency and promote flexible wireless use, including exclusive use, non-exclusive use and unlicensed use?

Can service rules governing existing services be modified to make the bands more suitable for wireless use?

Can existing rules be eliminated to reduce regulatory burdens and maximize efficient use?

In July of 2016, the agency allocated nearly 11 GHz of spectrum above 24 GHz for 5G services. This is the first move by the FCC to explore spectrum below 24 GHz and above the 3.55 to 3.7 GHz band that was allocated for the Citizens’ Band Radio Service (CBRS) in 2015.