Should the FCC make mmwave spectrum lightly licensed?

Why can’t we have the SAS system, like CBRS uses, for mmwave? Think about what could have been done with mmwave if the FCC decided to lightly license the spectrum or at least split off a gig or so to lightly license. Could it have been a game changer for the economy? YES!

FYI – we do have the very high spectrum, like 70, 80, and 90GHz, but is it enough? See to learn more.

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OK, you think I’m crazy, but hear me out. This spectrum has very limited coverage. I mean it’s not 600MHz covering large swaths of territory, which 5G may be better not covering anyway. It covers a small targeted area for massive broadband. How many cells will it take to use 24GHz or 39GHz to cover a 3 square mile radius? A whole bunch!

At some point, it has to be used indoors, right? We could rely on unlicensed for everything indoor, but does that make sense? No! We want lightly licensed indoors. That’s why the CBRS spectrum is so exciting the industry. We want it for private LTE, (PLTE), and private 5G NR! See the reasons for lightly licensed mmwave below because they apply to the CBRS as well.

The thing is, now that the carriers are buying mmwave, I expect them to deploy everywhere, indoors and out. It’s an interesting dynamic because the carriers made it clear they do not want to pay for smaller indoor systems, yet, mmwave is ideal for indoor applications because it has massive spectrum available but very limited coverage. Minimal coverage!

Also, how many people use their smartphones and laptops indoors? Do you? Of course, you do, don’t lie! We all do, as a matter of fact, we use them more indoors than ever before! Like in your office, or at the airport or train station, on the train, on the bus, at the Starbucks, in the gym, wherever. We may not carry a laptop with us, but we do carry our smartphones everywhere. We use it more and more than ever before. Hence, 5G is becoming more of a need than a luxury.

Businesses will rely on this access more than the personal user. They need it. They have customer and bosses to satisfy. They have projects with deadlines. They have the need! We know the carriers are going to draw a line in the sand of what they will pay for and what they won’t. They already said they don’t want to pay for DAS, so why would indoor coverage be any different?

Why lightly licensed mmwave for the industry?

  • Massive spectrum instead of unlicensed.
  • Lightly licensed offers another layer of security compared to unlicensed, let me ask you, if someone has Wi-Fi, then they can sit around all day trying to hack in whereas lightly licensed is more work and cost to hack, right?
  • The SAS system is fantastic for CBRS. It solves a problem.
  • This would spare the industry’s need for indoor coverage with a system that is more efficient and secure.
  • This is where businesses in the enterprise, think finance and software development companies, could use this spectrum to save on the wiring costs and still have an extra layer of security that unlicensed may not have.
  • The industry won’t rely on the carriers to lease, lend, or approve indoor coverage for companies that want to do their own thing indoors.
  • The carriers made it clear that they do not want to support indoor coverage without a significant payback.
  • The mmwave that they are deploying now will require the indoor solution to be solved, will the carriers pay for this? I don’t think they want to.
  • Private systems would deploy more equipment with higher security for businesses that need it like banks, financial firms, and Biomed
  • Enterprise systems would have an alternative to unlicensed.

The thing is, the SAS, (spectrum access system) like we’re using in CBRS could be used for more than the CBRS spectrum. Think about how limited mmwave is. We need a ton of cells to cover a small area, yet the FCC is auctioning off the spectrum to the highest bidder. To me, it doesn’t make sense.

We should be using that spectrum to its fullest capability. We should be using SAS to share the spectrum. It makes sense, so then the indoor coverage can explode with massive spectrum. I am talking about lightly licensed spectrum.

The need for massive broadband is critical for indoors, and I don’t see a typical small cell handling the load that we expect it to have, not until we open up the spectrum to make massive broadband happen.

Think about this; the carriers do NOT want to spend money on DAS or indoor system where they don’t have a massive payback. Yet, they expect unlicensed and CBRS to handle the load.

The thing is the carriers lobbied, through WIA, to get this spectrum, now they don’t want to pay for DAS or indoor coverage. What solution did they have in mind, unlicensed? I don’t think so.

I think we need to open up more spectrum so that private LTE and 5G can flourish. Private networks are going to be the future of the carrier’s offloading. They can hope that Wi-Fi is good enough, but let’s face it, the handoff for data and voice are much cleaner if it’s like for like. Going from LTE to Wi-Fi was a challenge, especially for VoLTE. Now we have 5G which will also need to be efficient when handing off to other networks.

The carriers need help. Can you imagine handing off to a network and suddenly the quality drops exponentially? I would blame the carrier even though the network is not theirs. If this is going to work out in the carriers favor, they need to support the SAS model beyond CBRS so that we can build out more private networks with mmwave. It’s about time the FCC starts thinking about the future of all networks, not just unlicensed and carrier, but the emerging private network business that is on the verge of booming.

Think about the possibilities of having mmwave open on a shared licensing deal, of what we could do in the enterprise for secure licensed networks! We could open up so much more broadband for new applications inside buildings. The idea that we can build AI and AR functions with a dedicated spectrum is a game changer to the future of indoor wireless. If you think unlicensed is excellent, imagine when you have 1000Mhz of dedicated licensed spectrum that can be used for a specific purpose in smart manufacturing, Fintech, or any other enterprise activity, and you have the future of wireless being shaped by private enterprise. These are applications that the carriers would not want to invest in.

Decisions have to be made that are for the future, not reactions to what we need now. If mmwave bands can be opened up like the CBRS was, in a timely manner, then we can expect real advances in wireless to happen outside of what the carriers are doing. Let’s face it; we need innovation. I mean a real innovation that makes changes that we don’t expect. The carriers will not do that until they see a more substantial payback.

The small business will make things happen that we didn’t think of yet. We have to allow that to happen. Do you think Facebook built something of what they saw? Maybe like MySpace but better. Google was like Yahoo, but much better.

I don’t know if the 60GHz spectrum used in WiGig can do it. Again, if it’s unlicensed, then it’s open to security risks. I just feel if someone has all day to sit on the network then the chances of them hacking it goes up exponentially.

So, I think when the FCC saw dollar signs, especially since they raised so much money from the recent mmwave auctions, did they look at the big picture? Let’s ask some questions.

  • Will the carriers support indoor coverage with this spectrum? I think they have to, whether they want to or not!
  • Will the carriers open up the spectrum for larger enterprise networks that want massive indoor secure private broadband?
  • Will the carriers have the ability to spy on private enterprise using their spectrum? Think about it, one call from the feds in the US and they will have access to everything that is happening in that network without a large financial firm know anything!Small Cell Cover 4
  • Can the carriers afford to build out all the indoor networks that will be required to expand mmwave?
  • Who will pay for the indoor mmwave build, the carrier or the enterprise business? I think we know it’s still a battle. Think about the conversation, “we have 100 units on your network, and you cheap bastards won’t cover our 3 floors of workers and the parking lot?” I can hear that conversation today just like I heard it 10 years ago.

So, I ask the FCC, does it make sense to auction off all of the mmwave when the CBRS model would work better and offer more diversity?

Links that may interest you:

The ecosystem will follow the money!

Opening up a lightly licensed mmwave band would be a boom for small business. The problem is that the FCC is catering to big business today, i.e., the carriers. If they could help small networking businesses rise with a wireless play for the enterprise, it would be a win-win for all. Why?


You may not know it, but the traditional wireless businesses of old are gone. There are few licenses or networks that they can build that compete with what fiber and carriers offer. Public safety had anything that the carriers don’t own, and unless it’s an IOT play, there isn’t a lot of room to play. Now, IT companies can do more than Wi-Fi. They can do private LTE in the CBRS band. This is going to open up new business cases and markets.

The OEMs would have another play to reach out to vertical markets with something beyond Wi-Fi and routers. They are excited about the CBRS, and the FCC sat on that for how many years? Now, the OEM, large and small, can work with enterprise and other companies to build these systems.

A consultant can help IT groups to design and layout these networks.

Installers will have the opportunity to come in and install the wireless access points.

SAS companies will be able to maintain their subscription income, expand it even.

The FCC would be boosting the economy.

The carriers could use this tool for a quick deployment at a low-cost by partnering with the enterprise to do handoffs.

Of course, all the additional servers, fiber backhaul, power over ethernet, and so on. It all adds up.

Think about what could be done:

  • Smart manufacturing,
  • Solid secure networking from inside the office all the way to your car in a parking lot,
  • High-speed trading in a wireless network,
  • The real-time interactive secure video,
  • Sports events at remote locations with 3D replay,
  • Real-time private and secure communications,
  • Enterprise applications without the wires,
  • A truly mobile office with added layers of security,
  • AI and AR applications in private secure networks,
  • IOT applications for tracking, mater updates, and more.

What about the carriers?

One thing the carriers are going to have to is open up a portal or server to allow roaming to be automated. In other words, they won’t pay for indoor coverage, and Wi-Fi only handles data. If the carrier wants to offer their services seamlessly, they will have to open up their network to partners. They have to allow roaming agreements to be on a micro scale. They need to automate this.

What I mean is they have to make it simple and subscription based. If I have a Sprint phone and roam into an area without Sprint, then Verizon will pick up my call because they handle roaming for Sprint. While this model is small today, it’s still in place. The carriers need to do this on a micro scale. They need to allow their core to accept customers that roam onto enterprise networks using a private LTE or 5G NR system.

Oh, you may think it can’t be done, or there are security risks. The carriers have femtocells all over the place, in-home femtocells and small business femtocells. They can take that a step farther.

Look at all the apps we use on our smartphone for finance. They are subscription based. If I can subscribe to Audible on my smartphone, then I think we could work out some type of roaming deal that the carriers could do with all the small networks out there. It won’t be easy, but it will save the carriers a lot of money in the long run.

It’s easy to say up front that the carriers should have and control all the licensed spectrum. I mean look what happened to the CBRS spectrum. How’s that going? Slow! Even T-Mobile’s priorities changed once they thought they could merge with Sprint. T-Mobile wants the 2.5GHz spectrum for 5G, don’t we all?


The point here is, if you want to spark small business and the economy outside of the carriers, then you have to give them something to work with. I think the FCC is releasing more and more spectrum, why make it all licensed billion-dollar spectrum? The CBRS could be a success; in fact, people are excited about it in spite of all the delays the FCC caused.

With lightly licensed mmwave spectrum, we have an opportunity to build great things and innovate outside of what the carriers want.

Freedom and security through the lightly licensed mmwave spectrum could be the future of private networks.

Thank you for your time to learn something new! Let’s use it today.

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

See Ya!

I appreciate all of your support. Thank you so much!



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