Nokia leading effort to push for spectrum above 95 GHz

Nokia is joining together with other technology leaders, including Virginia Diodes and Keysight Technologies, in becoming founding members of the mmWave Coalition, which will advocate for the use of radio frequencies above 95 GHz at the FCC, other U.S. government agencies and the ITU.

“The mmWave Coalition member companies are united in the objective of removing regulatory barriers to technologies and using frequencies ranging from 95 GHz to 450 GHz,” wrote Nokia’s Paul Norkus in a blog post.

“While 5G and possibly even 6G(!) might look at these as potential frequency bands to use, the Coalition is not limiting itself to supporting any particular use or technology," Norkus said. "Instead, it is working to create a regulatory structure for these frequencies that would encompass all technologies and all possible uses, limited only by the constraints of physics, innovation and the imagination.”

RELATED: Nokia plans to conduct 90-96 GHz tests

The coalition has an ally at the head of the FCC, so that should make its job a little easier.

During a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in March, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai noted that frequencies above 95 GHz haven’t traditionally been used for mobile wireless technologies.

“But I believe that, instead of having regulators decide which frequencies are useful, we should put spectrum out there as a testbed and leave it to the innovators to figure out how to use it,” Pai said at the time. “Applications for experimentation above the 95 GHz band could qualify for Section 7 treatment. And this determination, in turn, could accelerate the deployment of cutting-edge wireless services and other innovations.”

RELATED: Editor's Corner—U.S. risks ceding leadership if it remains passive about 95 GHz+

There are others advocating for this spectrum to get unleashed. In January of this year, industry consultant Michael Marcus, head of Marcus Spectrum Solutions and retired associate chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology, gave a presentation (PDF) to FCC staffers about the importance of opening 95-475 GHz to commercial use and the technical and policy challenges.

The presentation noted that NTT used a 125 GHz system at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and that the mission of ETSI ISG mWT is to promote the use of millimeter wave spectrum from 50 GHz up to 300 GHz for present and future critical transmission applications and use cases.  

Possible uses of spectrum at 95-450 GHz include point-to-point terrestrial communications.

Meanwhile, in comments (PDF) to the FCC related to spectrum bands above 24 GHz, Brown University School of Engineering Professor Daniel Mittleman said that for over 20 years, his area of specialization has been the science and technology of submillimeter and terahertz waves and their uses in spectroscopy, imaging and sensing. He and his colleagues feel strongly that this region of the spectrum is poised to have an enormous economic impact—a feeling that’s based on the rapid pace of technological progress in the field, as well as the “astounding acceleration in recent interest on the part of many companies, both in the U.S. and abroad.”

One solution that’s gaining favor among researchers, as well as groups such as the IEEE 802.15 WPAN Terahertz Interest Group (IGTHz), is the idea of developing new network capabilities, not to replace, but to supplement the existing cellular architecture, according to Mittleman.