FCC to look into new-generation wireless networks


In the words of Buzz Lightyear, and US Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, US regulators will look “to infinity and beyond” to harness new technology that can help build a new generation of mobile wireless connections.

The FCC has voted unanimously to open a so-called “notice of inquiry” into what it and the industry can do to turn a new swath of very high-frequency airwaves, previously deemed unusable for mobile networks, into mobile-friendly frequencies.

The FCC’s examination would serve as a regulatory backdrop for research into the next generation of wireless technology, sometimes referred to as 5G and which may allow wireless connections to carry a thousand times more traffic.

“Today we’re stepping in front of the power curve,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said at the meeting.

In question are frequencies above 24 gigahertz (GHz), sometimes called millimeter waves, that have previously been deemed technically unweildy for mobile connections, though have the potential to carry large amounts of data and give the promise of lightning-fast speeds.

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