Verizon aims to test 6 GHz devices with multiple suppliers

Verizon filed an application with the FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to conduct tests with multiple vendors of 6 GHz products.

According to Verizon’s application, engineers will be testing 6 GHz devices for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint viability for both distribution of Wi-Fi and connection to STA or client devices. Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel, Celeno, Mediatek and Quantenna are listed as suppliers.

Verizon gave a July 30 start date for operations, with an end date of January 20, 2021. Operations are planned for Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Ashburn, Virginia.

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Noting the big role Wi-Fi is playing in homes across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC voted unanimously in April to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use. Under the FCC’s plan, critical microwave users already in the band will be protected while new unlicensed services use the band.

The 6 GHz order put a lot of emphasis on Wi-Fi, but nothing prohibits Verizon and other licensed operators from using the 6 GHz band as well, either for Wi-Fi offload or 5G. In fact, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai noted in his statement at the time of the vote that cellular operators will have a chance to augment their 5G mobile broadband services by using the 6 GHz band; 3GPP Release 16 includes a 5G New Radio specification for unlicensed, called 5G NR-U.

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However, it’s clear that Verizon would find the 6 GHz band more useful if some changes were made. Last month, the operator filed comments with the FCC urging it to allow higher power for unlicensed standard-power access points that are subject to automated frequency coordination (AFC). The FCC’s Report and Order recognizes that unlicensed operations in the 6 GHz band “are expected to work in concert with new licensed 5G services,” but the power levels as adopted are not sufficient to integrate wideband 6 GHz unlicensed operations into 5G systems, according to Verizon.

It’s urging the commission to increase the maximum permitted EIRP in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands from 36 dBm to 42 dBm while leaving unchanged the maximum power spectral density of 23 dBm/MHz.

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Verizon argues that a 36 dBm power limit will unnecessarily relegate wideband systems to coverage areas substantially smaller than those of narrowband systems and this reduced coverage will make 5G NR-U deployments much more expensive for operators as they’ll be required to deploy more small cells to achieve their desired service areas.

In fact, a 6 dB increase in EIRP will double the linear coverage and quadruple the geographic area coverage achievable compared with deployments subject to the rules adopted in the FCC’s Report and Order, according to Verizon, which said this increase in EIRP would benefit multiple unlicensed technologies, including 5G-NR-U and Wi-Fi 6 alike.