Battelle Files FCC Petition For 10G Wireless


Ohio-based Battelle, the largest, independent non-profit R&D organization focused on technology solutions for public and private sector has submitted a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to get service rules on 10G Wireless. The petition asks the FCC to set aside the 102-109.5 GHz band for 10G wireless.

While the US is approaching 10G wired, 10G wireless is at the early concept stages, and could be useful to a variety of technologies including big data transfers, telemedicine as well as adding a new layer of network capability when fiber networks are either down or unavailable.

“The petition and technology are a chicken and egg thing, mostly egg. We’ve had industry conversations around the capability and there is demand, but few companies are going to experiment with something like this if there isn’t a regulatory allowance or bandwidth,” explains Philip Schofield, manager sensors and communication at Battelle in an interview with CivSource.

After a decade of development, Battelle has developed wireless technology that can put fallow spectrum above 100 GHz to productive use for important public and commercial purposes. The technology provides low-cost, high-capacity, moveable data links for the type of big data transmissions used by hospitals, or law enforcement.

The 102-109.5 GHz band, is already allocated primarily for fixed and mobile communications use. Under the rules proposed by Battelle the band would also be open to others who develop competing technologies. Battelle believes that use of this band as it has been proposed could have a transformative influence on how the increasingly bandwidth-intensive information demands of our nation’s economy can be served. Now, the FCC is asking for public comment on the proposal.

“A lot of the FCC’s resources have been focused further down the spectrum with consumer broadband access, TV White Space, and that makes sense. But there is demand for access technology up and down the chain. We took the opportunity as a research body to provide the petition with our viewpoint on what could be done in an effort to draw attention to this area for regulators and get the conversation started,” Schofield said.

The comment period is open to any and all stakeholders with an interest in this issue, Schofield notes that in addition to providers it is likely that academic institutions, along with health care providers or financial services firms could help illustrate the need. Beyond federal regulation allowances, in order to enable commercial use of the technology, states would also have to get involved. “To go wireless, you have to have some kind of physical structure to put the technology on, so once it gets down to the state level or the provider level those issues will have to be dealt with but it can still be less intensive than land use or right of way issues we see with fiber deployments, which can be very expensive.”

10GE  technology is growing along with other expansion areas in access like TV White Space. All of it is designed to create an ecosystem of connectivity. Vendors like Cisco are trying to capitalize on the ecosystem with the Internet of Things, although that too can only go so far without a runway from regulators. In its petition, Battelle notes that 10GE can help relieve some of the congestion of the 70-80 GHz bands which are already heavily used in some areas.

Service rules would give businesses the rules of the road for using the technology which is still experimental. As it stands now, experimental use can get certain special situations allowances but it’s a hard business case for providers to build out on an experimental basis without a clear pipeline for transition into commercial use. TV White Space, and parts of FirstNet got this special temporary authority for their pilot projects, and those projects had interest because the next phase was relatively clear.

Battelle itself has invested approximately $10 million in the technology on an experimental basis. An additional use case for the technology is the ability to beam access into geographically isolated areas, which was the same business case for TVWS. The FCC has already indicated an interest and willingness to explore how to better handle rural expansion of broadband access. Schofield points out that the 10GE technology could help bridge that gap. Watch this space.