The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 14 adopted new rules for wireless broadband operations above 24 GHz, making the U.S. the first country to make this spectrum available for next generation wireless services.

The FCC allocated approximately 11 GHz for flexible, mobile and fixed use wireless broadband, comprising 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum from 64 to 71 GHz and 3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum, designated as a new "upper microwave flexible use" service, in three bands:

  • 27.5 to 28.35 GHz
  • 37 to 38.6 GHz, and
  • 38.6 to 40 GHz.

In a release issued by the FCC, the commission stated their intent is to "set a strong foundation for the rapid advancement to next-generation 5G networks and technologies in the United States." Noting that 5G technologies are under development, the FCC said the new rules "will provide vital clarity for business investment in this area."

To meet a variety of different needs and use cases "without needlessly prescriptive regulations," the rules provide several approaches for spectrum access, including exclusive use licensing, shared access and unlicensed access. The FCC seeks to balance federal and nonfederal, satellite and terrestrial, fixed and mobile services.

The Commission also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) seeking comment on applying the same flexible use service and technical rules to another 18 GHz of spectrum encompassing eight additional high frequency bands, as well as the sharing framework for the 37 to 37.6 GHz band. The additional bands are:

  • 24.25 to 24.45 and 24.75 to 25.25 GHz
  • 31.8 to 33.4 GHz
  • 42 to 42.5 GHz
  • 47.2 to 50.2 GHz
  • 50.4 to 52.6 GHz
  • 71 to 76 GHz and 81 to 86 GHz (E-Band)

The FCC is also seeking input on how to provide access to spectrum above 95 GHz.

FCC Fact Sheet

The FCC prepared the folliwing document summarizing the commission's action and request for additional comments.

FCC Fact Sheet: Allocating Spectrum Above 24 GHz for 5G by speedybits on Scribd

Reference: Action by the Commission July 14, 2016 by Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 16-89).