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LTE and 5G are getting faster, thanks to 3.5GHz spectrum. Here’s why

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given permission for four companies — including Google and Sony — to open the 3.5GHz band for commercial use. The opening of this midband spectrum has been long sought by campaigners, and it’s likely this will mean faster speeds for both 4G LTE connections and the United States’ budding 5G network.

Google, Sony, CommScope, and Federated Wireless Inc. have been named by the FCC as the four Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators, which means each will be responsible for making their specific part of the 3.5GHz bands fit for commercial purposes. This is the first time the midband spectrum will be available for private use within the U.S., and it’s likely to be jumped on quickly by companies seeking to boast of faster data connections than the competition.

Chairman @AjitPaiFCC just announced that the agency has certified four Spectrum Access System Administrators, paving the way for full commercial operations in the 3.5 GHz band:

— The FCC (@FCC) January 27, 2020

As noted by Engadget, this has been in the pipeline for some time now. The 3.5GHzz midrange band is already open to 5G networks in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, so it’s about time the U.S. caught up with everyone else. It could have arrived sooner too, with the FCC voting to free up a part of the midrange band in 2015. Unfortunately for LTE networks, the effort was held up by a number of disputes. Key to the disputes was the U.S. Navy’s naval radar system, which often used the same band. While there were times the band was empty, the FCC had to make sure there would be room for both private and Navy traffic in the band at the same time, which held up making a final decision for several years.

But don’t go booting up your phones and stepping outside to enjoy your new speed just yet. It’s likely to take time before any of us are able to see the benefits in our usual lives. One thing’s for sure though: With 5G phones arriving at an ever-increasing pace, and the number of 4G-capable phones multiplying in kind, there may come a day where all of us are connected all the time. Whatever your thoughts on that, it’s sure to mean we all live in interesting times.

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Mark Jansen
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