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.
Many wireless carriers are still rolling out their 4G LTE networks. But federal regulators are already turning their eye toward next-gen technologies that will allow incredibly fast mobile data. We’re talking rates that are 1,000 times faster than what the average American gets at home today from a fixed broadband connection. Welcome to the era of 5G. At some point, most wireless technologies are thwarted by obstacles or distance. That’s because wireless spectrum — the airwaves that carry mobile voice and data — are subject to the same laws of physics that govern everything else. But the Federal Communications Commission thinks there might be promise in a high-energy spectrum that the industry has taken to calling “millimeter waves,” due to their high frequency. And on Friday, the FCC said it would begin asking the public just what it can do to promote this technology.
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