Editor's Note: Today, July 14, 2016, the FCC voted to adopt the Spectrum Frontiers Proposal to enable rapid development and deployment of next-generation 5G technologies and services. Following is Qualcomm's statement in support of the FCC's decision: Qualcomm strongly supports today’s FCC decision, which is a major step forward for 5G and ultimately for the industry and consumers. By allocating a large amount of high band spectrum, in conjunction with ongoing FCC initiatives to make low band and mid band spectrum available, the FCC is creating a path for 5G which lines up very closely with Qualcomm’s technical work. For our part, Qualcomm will continue working to finalize ground-breaking 5G technology and develop superior 5G products that use each and every piece of spectrum that the FCC and other regulators around the world make available to bring the tremendous potential of 5G to fruition.”
Later this week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on the Spectrum Frontiers Proposal that, if adopted, would allocate vast amounts of spectrum at frequency bands above 24 GHz (known as millimeter-Wave or mmWave). As stated in the FCC Fact Sheet on this proposal, “Building on a tried-and-true approach to spectrum policy that enabled the explosion of 4G (LTE), the Chairman’s rules would set in motion the United States’ rapid advancement to next-generation 5G networks and technologies.”
Qualcomm strongly supports the proposal to move forward with making mmWave spectrum available for 5G in conjunction with other ongoing parallel FCC efforts to make more low band and mid band spectrum available as well. To bring 5G to fruition, Qualcomm is working to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum regulatory paradigms (including licensed and shared) and spectrum bands – from low bands below 1 GHz, to mid bands from 1 GHz to 6 GHz, to high bands known as mmWave.
The focus of the Spectrum Frontiers Proposal is on the mmWave high bands. The new rules would open up almost 11 GHz of spectrum – 3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum and 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum – making available more spectrum for wireless/mobile broadband than ever before. Furthermore, adopting this proposal positions the U.S. as a leader in 5G, paving the way for U.S. companies to launch 5G technologies that will take advantage of very wide bandwidths to meet the growing demands for high-quality end-user performance and network capacity. But actually achieving this use of mmW wave spectrum will not come easy since high propagation loss and susceptibility to blockage has traditionally made these higher spectrum bands unsuitable for mobile networks. New advanced 5G technologies, however, will change that. And just like we did with 3G and 4G, Qualcomm is leading the world to 5G, including pioneering advanced antenna technologies to mobilize mmWave.
As implied by the name “millmeter-wave,” the small wavelengths at these higher frequencies enable the use of a much larger number of antenna elements in a relatively small form factor than is possible in lower bands. We are taking advantage of these antennas to form narrow directional beams and send and receive more energy to overcome the propagation / path loss challenges.
In addition, our extensive mmWave channel measurements and field testing have shown that the so-called non-line-of-sight paths (e.g., reflections from nearby buildings) can generate very large energies that provide alternative paths when line-of-sight paths are blocked. To enable a good mobile broadband user experience with mmWave, we have implemented continuous intelligent beam searching and tracking algorithms to discover and switch to the dominant beam path. This dominant beam path will be constantly changing based on environment, mobility, and a slew of other factors.
Qualcomm Research has developed a 5G mmWave prototype system operating in the 28 GHz band using wide bandwidths, capable of providing multi-gigabit per second connectivity. Our prototype system showcases adaptive beamforming and beam-tracking techniques that enable robust and sustained broadband communications even in non-line-of-sight environments and with device mobility. The system is already being utilized in 28 GHz field testing today, and it is also flexibly designed to support testing, demonstrations and trials at additional mmWave spectrum bands in the future, such as the 32 GHz band being considered in Europe.
Beyond advanced antenna techniques, new and effective spectrum sharing schemes will be critical to the success of 5G mmWave. mmWave is particularly well suited to spectrum sharing schemes due its dense spatial reuse. The FCC proposal would adopt effective sharing schemes to ensure that diverse users – including federal and non-federal, satellite and terrestrial, and fixed and mobile – can co-exist. Specifically, the proposal seeks to create a new Upper Microwave Flexible Use service in the 28 GHz (27.5-28.35 GHz), 37 GHz (37-38.6 GHz), and 39 GHz (38.6-40 GHz) bands, and expands the current 57-64 GHz unlicensed band to 71 GHz.
At Qualcomm, we have also been pioneering technologies for spectrum sharing with our work on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service at 3.5 GHz in the U.S., Licensed Shared Access (LSA) to access the underutilized spectrum, such as spectrum for military radar, in a mutually beneficial way, as well as our work on making the best use of unlicensed spectrum with LTE-U, LAA, and MulteFire.
Just as importantly, we are also designing 5G mmWave for tight interworking with 5G deployed in sub-6 GHz spectrum, as well as multi-connectivity with 4G LTE access, to further increase the robustness of the 5G mmWave design. Sub-6 GHz spectrum bands remain critical for providing ubiquitous coverage and capacity to successfully support the wide range of 5G use cases. We recently announced the Qualcomm Research 5G sub-6 GHz prototype system and trial platform, showcasing multi-gigabit per second data rates at latencies significantly lower than today’s networks. Qualcomm is working diligently to ensure that 5G really will use low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrum to provide a whole new level of mobile broadband connectivity, supporting use cases never before deemed possible for wireless.
Our work using these Qualcomm Research prototypes is the foundation to our innovative and impactful 5G designs that are now being contributed to 3GPP to drive 5G New Radio (NR) standardization. It is the combination of these advancements in 5G technologies in which Qualcomm is leading the way, along with standardization and regulatory efforts to identify and open up 5G spectrum, such as this FCC Spectrum Frontiers Proposal, to help drive timely commercial network launches of 5G.
We look forward to continuing our close collaboration on 5G with the FCC and spectrum regulators around the world. To learn more about the technologies behind mobilizing mmWave, check out our recently published whitepaper “Exploring the Potential of mmWave for 5G Mobile Access” and for all things 5G, go to www.qualcomm.com/5G.