A new proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would, if passed, open up some of the fastest airwaves for next-generation cellular networks.
Fifth generation cell networks (5G) require higher frequency bands on the radio spectrum and, if the proposal is adopted by the five FCC commissioners, those frequencies will be opened up to bidding from major communications companies.
Most wireless communications from cell phones to Wi-Fi operate over the radio spectrum, which is a finite resource. This chart shows how the government (through the FCC) allocates radio frequencies to different technologies.
5G follows four previous generations of wireless technology. 1G was developed in the 1980s as an analog service for early cell phones or “bag phones.” 2G was developed in the early 1990s and shifted cellular networks from analog to digital and included the ability to send text messages. 3G was developed in the early 2000s and essentially enabled the use of GPS, video conferencing and basic Internet access. 4G technology ushered in the current era of smart phone technology, with speeds and coverage that allowed for thousands of apps and current uses of our phones to thrive.
Wheeler told reporters he envisions 5G as fast enough that people would name it “mobile fiber.” Wheeler believes users can expect mobile speeds 10 or even 100 times faster than previous technologies. He used the heath care sector as an example of an industry that will benefit greatly with 5G speeds. “The surgeon’s scalpel needs to be immediately responsive, not a blink later,” explained Wheeler. “Latency [responsiveness] needs to be less than one millisecond – or less than one-thousandth of a second.”
In a prepared statement, he announced that if his proposal is passed, “the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications, and that’s damn important because it means US companies will be first out of the gate.” Wheeler put an emphasis on his proposal, stating that “American leadership in 5G must be a national priority.”
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Cross-posted from The Daily Caller