Apple gets OK to conduct 28 GHz, 39 GHz tests

The FCC granted Apple’s request for an experimental license to conduct 28 GHz and 39 GHz tests at Apple facilities in Cupertino and Milpitas, California.

Apple plans to use equipment from Rhode & Schwarz, A.H. Systems and Analog Devices in the tests, according to its application that was submitted back in May and reported earlier by Light Reading. The grant is good from July 19 until August 1, 2018.

“Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum,” Apple told the FCC. “These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”

The 28 GHz band has been contentious in that it’s used by the satellite industry but mobile operators are demanding priority use. Citing the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers Report and Order, Apple said in its FCC paperwork that while the 28 GHz band is allocated for earth-to-space transmissions, the FCC has determined that it is unlikely that aggregate energy from 28 GHz terrestrial operations would result in harmful interference to satellite receivers.

In addition, the commission has recognized that the 39 GHz band is currently unused by satellite operators. Nevertheless, “Apple will also abide by any coordination requirement for Part 25 operations issued as a condition of operation for its license,” the company said. The FCC’s grant lists several conditions, including that Apple must ensure that the transmitting fixed station antenna(s) main beam gain tip down when possible and avoid pointing above the horizon to protect satellite stations.

The 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands have been of particular interest to U.S. mobile operators. Earlier this year, Verizon closed its acquisition of XO Communications, which brings with it access to 102 LMDS licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands, and it won the bidding war for StraightPath, which also gives it lot of millimeter wave spectrum. AT&T quietly acquired FiberTower, which gives it access to the 24 GHz and 39 GHz bands, and T-Mobile acquired 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum covering nearly 100 million people in major metropolitan areas when it bought Metro PCS in 2012.