US set to switch military airwaves for 5G

(Image credit: Google)

The US government is freeing up 100MHz worth of 3.5GHz spectrum that will provide mobile operators with valuable mid-range bandwidth to power their 5G networks.

5G networks use more diverse array of spectrum than previous generations of mobile technology, with various frequencies serving different user bases.

US deployments to date have used low-band spectrum that offers wide coverage but lower capacity and millimetre Wave (mmWave) frequencies that offer massive capacity over a short range.

US 5G spectrum

Other countries, including the UK, have also used mid-band frequencies that offer a compromise. Not so in the US where a significant amount of this spectrum has been under the control of the Department of Defense (DoD).

The release of 3.45-3.55GHz frequencies will be accelerated with a view to a formal auction taking place as soon as possible. Separately, moves have been made by the US Federal Communications to release various blocks of spectrum located between 3.55GHz and 3.98GHz.

5G leadership has become a key strategic objective for the Trump Administration. In typical understated fashion, the White House said the release would ensure the US has the “world’s best 5G” while Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC was similarly bombastic.

“This is a key milestone in securing United States leadership in 5G,” he said. “Together with the spectrum being made available for 5G in the C-band as well as the 3.5 GHz band, we are now on track to have a 530-megahertz swath of mid-band spectrum available for 5G from 3.45 to 3.98 GHz. The FCC looks forward to moving quickly to adopt service rules for the 3.45 GHz band and then hold an auction to bring this prime mid-band spectrum to market.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.