5G networks are still several years off, but the Federal Communications Commission is already gearing up for their deployment by drafting rules that would allow companies to broadcast cellular signals in extremely high frequency spectrums.
The FCC has proposed new "flexible user service rules" that would permit the transmission of signals in the 28, 37, 39, and 64 to 71 GHz bands, all of which are well above the 700 to 2600 MHz bands that today's 4G LTE networks typically use. The Commission is also seeking public comment on any other bands above 24 GHz that could be suitable for use.
There are obviously complications in getting mobile networks to work effectively using spectrum above 28 GHz, including distance limits and the ease of obstruction. However the FCC believes that these complications can be overcome, paving the way for 5G networks between 1 and 10 Gbps.
The FCC specifically cites dynamic beam-forming antennas as an engineering advancement that can support high-frequency, high-capacity networks. It's expected that these sorts of antennas, once shrunk to fit inside smartphones, will lead to 5G networks with faster speeds and lower latency.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn says there is "little doubt" that 5G networks would combine high-frequency transmissions with spectrum below 1 GHz, giving carriers the opportunity to build a network with the best coverage (using low-frequency bands) and speeds (using high-frequency bands).
The proposal from the FCC to use spectrum up to 71 GHz isn't final just yet, though they expect to authorize unlicensed, licensed, and shared high-frequency spectrums in the near future.