Last year, I wrote a column titled "Looking Ahead to 5G," which discussed the great expectations that many have for the standard—never mind the fact its details were (and still are) yet to be determined. Recently, however, major news came forth from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that will set the stage for 5G development. The FCC unanimously voted to open up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum, unlocking frequencies above 24 GHz for future 5G networks. This news means that the U.S. is the first nation to allow spectrum above 24 GHz to be available for 5G.
The unanimous voting opens up spectrum in the 28-, 37-, and 39-GHz frequency bands, as well as the unlicensed 64- to 71-GHz band. Following the announcement, the Obama administration pledged its support, announcing a $400 million research initiative. Led by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this initiative seeks to build four city-scale advanced wireless testing platforms.
All of this news demonstrates why 5G is such a hot topic nowadays. The interesting part of all of this is the fact that nobody exactly knows what the standard will be. Although the news from the FCC is a major step toward 5G reality, much work still needs to be done for 5G to actually be defined. Of course, everyone wants faster speeds. But exactly how will 5G enable it? That is a question that will need to be answered.
One thing is clear: The RF/microwave industry is gearing up for 5G. Keysight Technologies, for example, just introduced the Signal Optimizer software, which is a tool for 5G candidate waveform signal creation and analysis. The company's 5G channel sounding reference solution is another example of Keysight’s focus on this area. Many other companies have their eyes on 5G, as well. With all the anticipation surrounding 5G, expect to continue hearing many announcements in the days to come.