Overview of Recent FCC and North America Forum Activity related to 5G

FCC adopts innovative incentive auction for 5G high-band spectrum:

On 12 December 2018 the FCC  took a significant step toward holding a major 5G spectrum auction in 2019 by adopting new rules that will promote the availability of high-band millimeter wave spectrum for the next generation of wireless connectivity.  The airwaves in the combined Upper 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands are the largest amount of contiguous spectrum available for wireless service in the millimeter wave bands—2,400 megahertz in total—while the 47 GHz band provides an additional 1,000 megahertz of spectrum.

Specifically, the Fourth Report and Order:

  • modifies the band plans for the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands from 200 megahertz blocks to 100 megahertz blocks to be licensed by Partial Economic Area, which will facilitate the simultaneous auction of licenses in the three bands;
  • adopts an incentive auction mechanism that will offer contiguous blocks of spectrum throughout the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands, while preserving spectrum usage rights for existing licensees; and
  • adopts a pre-auction process that allows incumbent licensees to rationalize their holdings.



Forward-thinking spectrum policy is critical for next generation wireless networks. The FCC is focused on making additional low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum available for 5G services.

  • High-band: The FCC has made auctioning high-band, millimeter-wave spectrum a priority. The FCC will hold its first 5G spectrum auctions this year in the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands. In 2019, the FCC will auction the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. With these auctions, the FCC will release almost 5 gigahertz of 5G spectrum into the market—more than all other flexible use bands combined. And we are working to free up another 2.75 gigahertz of 5G spectrum in the 26 and 42 GHz bands.
  • Mid-band: Mid-band spectrum has become a target for 5G buildout given its balanced coverage and capacity characteristics. With our work on the 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, and 3.7-4.2 GHz bands, we could make up to 844 megahertz available for 5G deployments.
  • Low-band: The FCC is acting to improve use of low-band spectrum (useful for wider coverage) for 5G services, with targeted changes to the 600 MHz800 MHz, and 900 MHz bands.
  • Unlicensed: Recognizing that unlicensed spectrum will be important for 5G, the agency is creating new opportunities for the next generation of Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz and above 95 GHz band.

Infrastructure Policy – Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee:

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, formed by Chairman Pai in 2017, provides advice and recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. See the latest BDAC news.

The FCC is updating infrastructure policy and encouraging the private sector to invest in 5G networks.

  • Speeding Up Federal Review of Small Cells: The FCC adopted new rules that will reduce federal regulatory impediments to deploying the small-cell infrastructure needed for 5G (as opposed to large cell towers) and help to expand the reach of 5G for faster, more reliable wireless service.
  • Speeding Up State and Local Review of Small Cells: The FCC has reformed rules designed decades ago to accommodate small cells. The reforms ban short-sighted municipal roadblocks that have the effect of prohibiting deployment of 5G and give states and localities a reasonable deadline to approve or disapprove small-cell siting applications.



5G Americas – Powering the 5G future with global technology standards:

On 23 October 2018, 5G Americas announced the publication of Wireless Technology Evolution: Transition from 4G to 5G which details the extensive standards work by the global organization 3GPP in the development of 5G wireless technology.

The whitepaper takes a step-by-step look behind the curtain at the 3GPP standards for 5G with a detailed status of key areas of work in 3GPP through Release 16, providing an easy and time efficient approach to understanding the technology standards development.

Release 15, the first phase of normative specifications for 5G provided specifications for a wider range of spectrum bands, from below 6 GHz to millimeter (mm) Wave bands up to 100 GHz enabled by a New Radio (NR) access technology.

The 5G NSA specifications have an LTE anchor for the control plane communications with a 5G NR cell to boost user data. The Rel-15 Standalone 5G NR specification will work without any reliance on LTE and those specifications were completed in June 2018 along with specifications of the new core network. The new core network specified in Rel-15 will provide interaction with the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) 4G system with orchestration, virtualization, a clearly separate control and user plane, and signaling architecture. Network slicing and Service Level Agreement (SLA) for groups of devices of new vertical industries and services will be provided for by the 5G core specification.

Release 16, or phase 2 of 5G, will primarily address any outstanding issues in Rel-15, expansion of 5G NR based on C-V2X capabilities, Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), enhancements to Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC), and 5G in operation in unlicensed spectrum and above 52.6 GHz. 5G efficiency improvements in Rel-16 will include enhancements to 5G Self-Organizing Networks (SON) and Big Data capabilities, MIMO enhancements, improved power consumption, support for device capabilities exchange, and a study of support for non-orthogonal multiple-access (NOMA).

Security – A critical success factor for 5G:

On 31 October 2018, 5G Americas announced the publication of The Evolution of Security in 5G which details a 5G world that is defined by the core tenets of network security architecture – an evolution of best common practices for people, processes and tools.

The report describes 5G safeguards in depth, as well as the vulnerabilities and attack vectors that they’re designed to mitigate. It also explores how 5G differs from 4G and 3G in terms of radio and core network architectures, and how those differences affect the security mechanisms available to mobile operators, their business partners and their customers. For example, 5G is the first mobile architecture designed to support multiple, specific use cases, each with their own unique cybersecurity requirements. In the enterprise IT world, network segmentation is a common, proven way to mitigate security risks. 5G introduces the concept of network slicing, which provides mobile operators with segmentation capabilities that weren’t possible with previous generations.

Key functions and frameworks specific to previous generations (3G, 4G) will continue to work within the overall 5G umbrella. 5G allows for a proliferation of access technologies of all types with data speeds from Gbps to Kbps, licensed and unlicensed, that are based on wide swaths of spectrum bands and include technologies specified by standards bodies other than 3GPP.

The Evolution of Security in 5G report delves into details encompassing security topics such as cybersecurity considerations and responses, 5G use cases, security functions for 5G-DDoS, various types of threats that are imperative to combat in the connected world of 5G, mitigated controls for 5G networks, and IoT threat mitigation and detection.

Communication (URLLC) to digitize industries and unearth new use cases

On 8 November 2018 announced the publication of New Services & Applications With 5G Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication which details the principles of achieving URLLC, explains the need for a new approach and highlights key requirements of URLLC services with an emphasis on technical challenges and solutions.

The 5G Americas report describes upcoming use cases of URLLC in smart transportation, industry automation and tele-surgery, and presents the latency and reliability requirements for these applications. The white paper also identifies possible latency bottlenecks in current cellular networks as well as future 5G networks and lays out the necessary implementation blocks for achieving end-to-end latency reduction required to support mission-critical applications. In addition, New Services & Applications With 5G Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication summarizes the recent performance evaluation results of the basic designs and implementation of the 5G physical layer, multiple access layers and air interface blocks essential to reducing latency and achieving the desired reliability. It also discusses other potential latency reduction measures including Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC).

5G to provide advanced connectivity for 4th industrial revolution:

On 15 November 2018, 5G Americas announced the publication of 5G Communications for Automation in Vertical Domains, summarizing automation concepts and communication modeling for vertical domains incorporating the key specific use cases, requirements and security mechanisms.

Communication for automation in vertical domains comes with demanding and diverse requirements with respect to latency, data rates, availability, reliability, and in some cases, high-accuracy positioning. The vertical industries that will reap the benefits of this new level of automation will range from railways, buildings, factories, healthcare, smart cities, electrical power supply and special events. These new Industry 4.0 opportunities will be possible through making sure that communications between machines is secure, dependable and seamless.

To achieve this, 5G supports three essential types of communication: enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC). Connectivity is a key component of Industry 4.0 which aims at significantly improving the flexibility, versatility, usability and efficiency of future smart factories, integrates the Internet of Things (IoT) and related services in industrial manufacturing, and delivers seamless vertical and horizontal integration down the entire value chain and across all layers of the automation pyramid. Meeting these objectives will greatly depend on the 5G technical performance such as supporting a peak data rate of 1–20 Gbps; connection density 1 thousand – 1 million devices/km2; reliability of 99.999 percent; enhanced battery life of 10 years; higher position accuracy; latency 1–10 ms; and strong privacy and security.


ATIS:  Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions

Spectrum bands:

ATIS has published standard ATIS-0700040 [June 2018, https://www.techstreet.com/standards/atis-0700040?product_id=2018216], North American Spectrum Bands (United States and Canada), which summarizes frequency bands in which various technologies are deployed using wireless systems throughout North America and includes commercial and commercial/unlicensed wireless bands. This document maps out the band numbers with frequencies for the uplink and downlink operating bands and is associated with 3GPP 26.101. Also included in this standard is the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band (3,550-3,700 MHz) which is managed and operated by a dynamic Spectrum Access System. ATIS is currently working on incorporating band classes and frequencies for Mexico.

IoT categorization:

ATIS launched an IoT Categorization Focus Group in late 2017 to address how the burgeoning growth in the IoT ecosystem is driving a wide range of new uses and requirements on the network infrastructure.  Several recent industry initiatives have examined the main features of IoT applications to better understand the requirements posed by each. The objective of ATIS’ work is to explore the multidimensional characteristics of IoT across devices, applications, subscription type and technology as well as regulatory and market drivers. This work is instrumental in identifying design choices relevant to the standardization of 5G.

ATIS has developed an IoT characteristics matrix, which will be used in subsequent activities to categorize IoT applications to identify network requirements (e.g., network slices). The initiative will aid service providers’ efforts to build networks that support a full range of IoT devices and services.

ATIS has contacted several IoT international standards bodies and fora requesting that they review the characteristics matrix and provide feedback.



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