The Federal Communications Commission is starting to plan for cellular networks that can send users gigantic streams of data, but there are technical challenges to be solved and years of work ahead.
A Notice of Inquiry issued unanimously by the commission on Friday identifies frequencies of 24GHz and above as being able to provide gigabit or even 10Gbps speed. This would be a major change because today’s cellular networks use frequencies from 600MHz to 3GHz, with so-called “beachfront spectrum” under 1GHz being the most desirable because it can be used to deliver data over long distances. AT&T and Verizon Wireless control the most beachfront spectrum.
“It was long assumed that higher spectrum frequencies—like those above 24 GHz—could not support mobile services due to technological and practical limitations,” the FCC said in a press release. “New technologies are challenging that assumption and promise to facilitate next generation mobile service—what some call ‘5G’—with the potential to dramatically increase wireless broadband speeds.”
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