by Monica Alleven
Straight Path, which is developing a 5G phased-array transceiver prototype in the 39 GHz band, expects to complete its work within 12 to 18 months and hopes the prototype will demonstrate the viability of using 39 GHz for 5G services.
The company, which owns the former fixed wireless provider Winstar Communications' spectrum licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands, is also waiting to hear what the FCC does at its open meeting this week, where the commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to create new flexible use service rules in certain bands above 24 GHz to support multiple uses, including mobile wireless.
Straight Path expects the NPRM will be released at or soon after the open meeting Thursday. "We hope and expect that our hard work, strategic decisions and effective advocacy have made our frequency premiere in the forthcoming NPRM," Straight Path CEO Davidi Jonas said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
A year ago, the FCC began the proceeding to examine the potential for mobile radio services in bands above 24 GHz, in part to discern what frequency bands above 24 GHz would be most suitable for mobile services. While 5G standards have not yet been written, it is expected that higher frequencies, sometimes known as millimeter wave (mmWave) bands, will be part of 5G services. Several vendors have done R&D in mmWave technology, with researchers at NYU Wireless contributing significant research.
Straight Path says it believes the prime spectrum for 5G is between 24 GHz and 57 GHz from both regulatory and technological perspectives. In particular, the 39 GHz band, along with the LMDS band and the 37 GHz to 38.6 GHz band, are attractive as potential spectrum for 5G, and the company is actively working with regulatory bodies to enable 5G mobile services in the band, CTO Jerry Pi said during the conference call.
Pi noted that the fundamental technologies that enable 5G include millimeter wave, massive MIMO and small cells. 5G requires significant innovations in RF technologies, digital circuit, communication theory and the radio access networks, among others, he said, and the industry is working hard to develop enabling technologies to bring 5G to reality. "We are encouraged by the successful 5G demonstrations from Ericsson at 15 gigahertz and then from Samsung at 28 gigahertz," he said. "We are also encouraged by announcements of planned 5G trials in South Korea in 2018, in Japan in 2020 and in the U.S. in 2016."
Verizon last month was the first U.S. operator to lay out its roadmap for deploying 5G, naming as partners Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Cisco, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung to test 5G in the company's innovation centers in Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco. Technology field trials are expected to begin in 2016.
Straight Path holds 828 spectrum licenses in the 39 GHz band, making it the largest single holder of 39 GHz licensed spectrum in the United States. It also holds 16 LMDS A licenses and 117 B licenses in the 28 GHz band. Through its Gigabit Mobility lab, the company expects to be the first U.S. company to develop a 5G system and to be the first internationally to do so at 39 GHz. It plans to demonstrate the technology in the U.S. within 18 months.