Three of the nation’s four largest wireless carriers are poised to bid in the upcoming FCC auctions of millimeter wave spectrum, according to a new FCC public notice. Millimeter wave spectrum is expected to support 5G wireless services offering speeds as high as a gigabit per second or more. And although some people have argued that millimeter wave 5G is unlikely to be deployed in rural areas, several small rural carriers also are on the list of potential millimeter wave auction bidders released by the commission.
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Some people have argued that the short range that millimeter wave spectrum can support makes it unsuitable for deployment in sparsely populated rural areas. Nevertheless, some rural carriers appear on the lists of potential millimeter wave auction bidders.
Several of these are Verizon LTE in Rural America (LRA) partners, suggesting either that those companies may be hoping Verizon will share its 5G technology with them as it has done in the past or simply illustrating that Verizon LRA partners are some of the most successful rural wireless carriers.
It’s also possible that rural carriers are interested in millimeter wave spectrum as a means of extending fixed high-speed broadband wireless into outlying suburban areas of metro markets, in competition with cable and telco landline broadband providers – a strategy that some rural-focused wireless internet service providers including Rise Broadband already have used.
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