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FCC adopts new rules for the foundation of 5G networks

There's still a long way to go.
Billy Steele
July 14, 2016
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Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We knew it was coming, and now the FCC has made it official. Today the commission voted to adopt new rules that would facilitate the development of 5G wireless networks in the US. More specifically, the guidelines relate to wireless spectrum above 24GHz and make the United States the first country in the world to make the spectrum available for so-called next-gen networks. The FCC said in a press release that its approaching 5G the way it has approached 4G (LTE) networks in the past, a strategy that will "set a strong foundation for the rapid advancement to next-generation 5G."

Of course, 5G technology is still being developed, but the new rules will "provide clarity" as companies begin to invest in it. This includes opening up 11GHz of spectrum for flexible, mobile and fixed use wireless broadband, with 3.85GHz of that for licensed spectrum and 7GHz for unlicensed spectrum. Today's vote also creates a new Upper Microwave Flexible Use service in the 28GHz, 37GHz and 39GHz bands in addition to a new unlicensed band at 64-71GHz. AT&T and Verizon have already revealed plans for 5G tests, and others will likely follow in the near future.

According to the FCC, the new rules also aim to facilitate innovation without letting regulations hold up the process. The commission approved a set of service and technical rules "to allow new technologies and innovations to evolve and flourish without needlessly prescriptive regulations." Guidelines are also in place to balance all the different use cases for 5G, from wireless service to satellite to federal use. If you're looking for more info on what this all means for the future of high-speed connectivity, consult our explainer on the FCC's vote.

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