O’Brien Suggests 5G Spectrum Aggregation for Future Private LTE Spectrum
Wednesday, October 06, 2021 | Comments
Nextel Co-Founder and Anterix Executive Chairman Morgan O’Brien proposed using 5G spectrum aggregation to help secure future spectrum for private LTE services.

O’Brien proposed petitioning the FCC to clear approximately half of the spectrum used by private LMR services currently. Because 5G technology allows spectrum aggregation across different bands, portions of those cleared bands could then be used to create 50 megahertz of spectrum specifically for private broadband uses.

O’Brien made the comments during a keynote speech at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) and noted that while he is the executive chairman of Anterix, he was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the company.

O’Brien said he was proposing the idea because he believes that private broadband radio service is critical to the continued economic and technological evolution. He said that this step would likely be necessary because of a lack of available spectrum.

“There’s no reasonable possibility that the FCC will discover spectrum below 1 GHz,” he said. “And if there is some found above or below, it will likely be auctioned off.”

Central to O’Brien’s plan would be keeping the spectrum designated specifically for private radio services, he said. “That would avoid any chance of auctioning the spectrum off to non-private users with deeper pockets.”

In order to make the proposal work, the private radio industry would need to come together and work with the FCC on a policy of clearing and rebanding the spectrum. It would also be critical to have public-safety users at the forefront of the conversation to ensure that any proposal that moves forward would not negatively impact those users, he said.

O’Brien noted that the FCC process would likely take many years as a lot of details, including some kind of innovative licensing structure, would need to be figured out.

“This is not something that gets done quickly,” he said. “These processes, when done correctly, consume years.”

However, O’Brien said that he thinks the FCC would be willing to listen to a proposal.

“I think today’s FCC is sufficiently enlightened that it would be open to a deal,” he said.

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