Orchestrating A One-Two Spectrum Punch
Since 2018, the United States position as a global leader in spectrum policy has slowly eroded. Following a series of forward-thinking mid-band spectrum policies in other nations over the past several years, the US no longer leads the world in innovative spectrum policy. This lack of leadership has tangible effects on everyday life, from slower connectivity to reduced competition among wireless providers.
The 12.2-13.2 GHz band is made up of two distinct halves, 12.2-12.7, lower 12 GHz, and 12.7-13.2, upper 12 GHz. These two halves are similar but have different characteristics which make them well suited to form a “One-Two Spectrum Punch”, which would result in 1,000 MHz of spectrum being made available to American providers. Lower 12 GHz is currently undergoing a transitional period as the FCC considers new regulations. Meanwhile, Upper 12 GHz recently gained traction as a potential band to be maximized. Lower 12 GHz can provide immediate relief for spectrum needs, with upper 12 GHz following closely behind.
Identifying and preparing 1000 MHz of spectrum will make a world of difference in keeping pace with our international competitors. Take for instance, across the Atlantic, where the European Union and the United Kingdom, after initially falling behind the U.S. on opening the 6 GHz band, have both authorized VLP for outdoor use. By earmarking the 12.2-13.25 spectrum to be further utilized, the FCC can put the US back on track to compete with Europe and Asia.
Maximizing our use of limited spectrum resources is not an exercise in international stick-measuring, it will provide significant benefits to providers and consumers in America. Increased utilization of the 12 bands would create immense societal value without impacting any existing users. Additional spectrum would also increase competition, enable better signal propagation, and reduce the time and effort required for new network deployments.
Both upper and lower 12 GHz have good propagation characteristics and are both very sizeable bands of spectrum, lower 12 GHz has minimal incumbents, is ready for immediate deployment, and has technical evidence already in the record. Upper 12 GHz also has few incumbents and could be prepared for increased utilization quickly and easily.
The United States should not be content with our current spectrum policy. The 12.2-13.2 band could form the bedrock of the US’s strategy, providing large, effective bands of spectrum for American operators both right now and in the future. By unleashing the power of 1000 MHz of 12 GHz band spectrum, the US can reclaim its position as a global leader in spectrum while benefiting consumers across the country.
–Chip Pickering, Co-Chairman of the 5Gfor12GHz Coalition.