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4G is slow? Say hello to 5G: FCC mulls next-gen wireless networks above 24 GHz

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The Federal Communications Commission has launched an investigation into 5G transmissions, an inquiry that would help establish a framework for the expansion of wireless networks beyond 24-GHz bands.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler states that the inquiry into 5G is a step beyond the current power curve. There have been limitations in the past, but innovation is poised to shatter those boundaries, according to Wheeler.

"It's been long assumed that frequencies even higher up on the spectrum chart could not support mobile applications due to physical and technical limitations," says Wheeler. "But smart thinkers, innovators, and technologists are devising solutions to this previous perceived limitation."

On the other side of the power curve, there are frequencies that could facilitate the unprecedented transfer speeds. But frequencies that high up on the spectrum have been avoided on fears that mobile devices would struggle to manage them.

"By using innovative technologies that can simultaneously track and acquire multiple signals reflecting and ricocheting off obstacles in the physical environment, future devices might be able to leverage much higher frequency bands, those above 24 GHz, for mobile applications," says Wheeler. "This technology could theoretically dramatically increase wireless broadband speeds and throughput up to 10 gigabits per second."

In the FCC's notice of investigation, the commission says it's seeking to draw up a list of bandwidths that are most suitable for industrywide adoption. The FCC cautions that its investigation into frequencies above 2 GHz is a part of its effort to free up traffic on lower frequencies and isn't an attempt to draw up legislation for the use of 5G.

"While our inquiry is informed by the work of many different stakeholders to develop and define the next generation of mobile wireless services and technologies, in this proceeding we are not attempting to define, standardize, or specify the characteristics of 5G service," states the FCC. "Nor do we anticipate ultimately adopting rules that will incorporate a specific 5G standard. Our use of the term "5G" in this item, therefore, is intended as a convenient shorthand rather than a circumscription."

While the FCC looks into the fifth generation of mobile telecommunications, the debate on net neutrality rages on. As the FCC mulls rules on Internet fast lanes, U.S. President Barrack Obama weighed in, once again, on the possibility that large organizations could pay for prioritized Internet access.

"I know one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow, some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet," said Obama on Oct. 9 during a visit to Cross Campus, a shared workspace in Santa Monica, Calif. "That's something I oppose. I was opposed to it when I ran; I continue to be opposed to it now."

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