Apple officially approved by the FCC to begin testing 5G wireless service

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In May, Apple was seeking permission to begin testing 5G technologies, according to a report from Business Insider. Only a few months later, the company’s application has officially been approved by the FCC to start testing 5G network technology in two locations near Apple’s offices in California’s Silicon Valley.

Just about every major mobile carrier in the United States is hard at work on 5G wireless technology now, in advance of its launch hopefully in a few years. Meanwhile, device makers have to be sure their products will be ready for the network when that day comes.

Although 5G specifications have not been entirely hammered out yet, we know the FCC approved the 28GHz and 39GHz bands for commercial 5G use last year. These are also the same ones mentioned by Apple in its — now approved — testing application.

The 28GHz band, specifically, is meant for ground-to-space transmission, and Apple has reportedly hired engineers with experience developing satellites ahead of testing.

The company looks to base its operations from two locations — one on Yosemite Drive in Milpitas, California, and another on Mariani Avenue near its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

Apple says it will run experiments for no more than a year, which would place the end of the testing phase right before the iPhone 9’s expected launch in late 2018. That is still a bit earlier than when 5G should arrive — Sprint, for example, is planning to launch its network by late 2019, and other carriers are targeting a similar timeframe.

Part of the delay is due to the fact that the 5G spec sheet probably won’t be decided until spring 2018 when industry partners convene. Meanwhile, carriers have begun the marketing cycle. In April, AT&T announced the launch of its 5G Evolution service in Austin, Texas, with a handful of cities to follow.

5G Evolution utilizes some technologies that should play a role in the overall 5G picture, like carrier aggregation and 4×4 Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO). However, other aspects, like small cells — miniature towers that can be placed on buildings and draw less power — and higher-frequency millimeter waves, are major aspects of 5G that customers probably won’t benefit from until the standard debuts in earnest.

Update: The FCC officially approved Apple’s application for an experimental license allowing the company to test 5G network technology.