In order to accelerate the implementation of the 5G service nationally in the U.S., the FCC said yesterday it will vote next month on a plan that would allow the agency to auction off part of the mid-band spectrum. To allow the execution of this auction, the FCC would eliminate the requirement that unused airwaves in the 2.5 GHz band be maintained for educational purposes. Reuters reports that the spectrum was originally reserved for the Broadband Educational Service (EBS) in the 1960s. The EBS was designed to allow schools to transmit live or pre-recorded educational materials to places within school districts and on university campuses.
Sprint rents and uses the 2.5 GHz medium-band spectrum. Once the latter will merge with T-Mobile, as it now seems likely, the low-bandwidth 600 MHz waves will be used with the resources of Sprint. to create a 5G sub-6GHz network nationwide. Both AT&T and Verizon seem to focus on using mmWave technology for their 5G networks. Given that these ultra-high bandwidths do not have a wide range, the two major wireless service providers in the country could take longer than a combined T-Mobile-Sprint to offer 5G coast-to-coast mobile service.
Not surprisingly, the US Department of Education is not satisfied with this news. In a letter written to the FCC earlier this month, the department said the auctioned specter should only be used for educational purposes. The Department of Education has also suggested using some proceeds from the auction to help students who cannot do their homework because they cannot access the Internet.
According to the FCC commissioner Brendan Carr, 90% of the spectrum that educational institutions possess is leased to wireless companies. Carr says that many educational institutions have hired these suppliers so that everyone focuses on what they do best: the first can educate students and the second can build wireless networks.
5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity and offers speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE. Once 5G is available across the country, it should lead to the development of new industries and companies.
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