The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules to enable rapid development and deployment of next generation 5G technologies and services by opening nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum.
This move paves the way for the next generation of wireless services in a move that makes the United States the first country to set aside an ample slice of spectrum for 5G wireless applications and networks.
Companies including Verizon and AT&T are already moving closer to adopting 5G, and have said that they will begin deploying 5G trials in 2017 with commercial deployments at scale expected in 2020. New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and maybe 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks, the FCC said.
There is a worldwide race to adopt 5G. South Korea and Japan plan to deploy it by the time they host the Olympics, in 2018 and 2020, respectively. The European Commission, South Korea, China and Japan are all working on 5G research efforts.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said:
This is a big day for our nation. (the agency’s action makes) the United States the first country in the world to identify and open up vast amounts of high-frequency spectrum for 5G applications. The big game-changer is that we are using much higher-frequency bands than previously thought viable for flexible uses, including mobile.
Various stakeholders have said that the next generation of wireless signals need to be much faster and far more responsive to allow advanced technologies like virtual surgery or to control machines remotely. 5G technology could potentially improve road traffic by monitoring sensors in streetlights, roadside architecture and cars. It could even help detect air pollution using sensors in trees.
Industry hawks however have noted that there are still questions to be answered, including a standard definition of 5G and exactly how much spectrum is needed.