Technology

Associations Help Lay Groundwork for 5G Wireless World

By / Jul 19, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

The FCC’s plan to open up high-end wireless spectrum gives U.S. mobile companies a leap over the rest of the world. But building it out won’t be cheap—or easy. Associations are ready to help, however.

With apps like Pokémon Go pulling down more bandwidth than ever and consumers getting hungrier and hungrier for video on the go, it makes sense that the mobile industry is looking for ways to make things even faster.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted in favor of making it possible for mobile providers to use high-frequency spectrum for 5G mobile access. As FierceWireless reports, nearly 11 GHz of wireless spectrum will be made available to wireless companies to help enable 5G testing and rollout.

But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler pledged that, in opening up this spectrum, the agency would not get in the way of the private sector’s attempts to bring this technology to the mainstream.

“By becoming the first nation to identify high-band spectrum, the United States is ushering in the 5G era of high capacity, high-speed, low-latency wireless networks,” Wheeler emphasized in comments reported by FierceWireless. “By not getting involved in the technologies that will use the spectrum, we’re turning loose the incredible innovators of this country.”

To underline this point, as a White House fact sheet does, three major technology trade groups will play significant roles in the testing and rollout of the next-generation wireless offering:

  • The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, which will help design and deploy 5G testing platforms.
  • CTIA: The Wireless Association, which will help engineer and coordinate research around the forward-thinking technology.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association, which will offer its knowledge of deployment and networking issues

Numerous other companies, many of which are members of at least one of these groups, will also offer their technology and expertise in helping to make the rollout happen.

In comments on the approval, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker credited the FCC for taking steps to put the United States in front of the rest of the world in building out its 5G networks.

“America is the world’s 4G LTE leader and, in the race to 5G, we are positioned well with this spectrum to fuel the next generation of networks, devices and, apps,” Baker said in a news release. “We applaud the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for taking this important step of making more spectrum available for Americans.”

That said, don’t expect it to happen overnight. The testing process may take some time and is expected to come with a significant price tag. Kinks also need to be worked out: While speeds are expected to be 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G LTE networks, high-end wireless signals struggle to travel through walls and can be disrupted by rain drops, according to a Bloomberg report.

And it could take time to actually get things ready—the often-bandied 2020 goal might be harder to reach than it sounds.

“We’ll see what our companies can do,” Baker told the wire service.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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