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FCC Opens Up High-Frequency Radio Spectrum for 5G Network

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In a landmark voting, the U.S. telecom regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday unanimously decided to make available high-frequency radio spectrums (above 24 GHz) for the use of the upcoming fifth-generation (5G) wireless network. With this, the U.S. becomes the first country in the world to identify and open up a significant amount of spectrum suitable for the ultra-fast 5G mobile standard.

The FCC will try to free up high-band spectrum – technically known as the centimeter (cmWave) and millimeter wave (mmWave) bands – which are one of the building blocks of the 5G wireless standard. The regulatory body has voted to open up a total of nearly 11GHz of spectrum. Of the total, 3.85GHz will be licensed spectrum and the remaining 7GHz will be unlicensed bandwidth to be used for mobile and fixed-wireless 5G network.

U.S. telecom giants Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ - Free Report) and AT&T Inc. (T - Free Report) together with major chipset developers Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM - Free Report) and Intel Corp. (INTC - Free Report) have welcomed the FCC’s decision. According to the research firm ABI Research, 5G network deployment is expected to ramp up after 2020 and its market size may reach $247 billion worldwide by 2025.

Several industry researchers hold that 5G network will provide a download speed of 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) which is 200 times the throughput of the currently available standard 4G LTE network. Latency period of data delivery will be in single milliseconds. Further, 5G technology is designed to be more power efficient than any other standard wireless networks available these days. Naturally, 5G-enabled mobile devices are likely to last much longer than their 3G or 4G counterparts.

Additionally, superfast 5G mobile networks will be of utmost importance in managing the exponential growth of Internet-connected devices, popularly known as Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles (to be controlled in the cloud). According to a report by research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), worldwide spending on IoT is slated to grow at a 17% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to nearly $1.3 trillion in 2019 from $698.6 billion in 2015.

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