Apple Asks FCC to Keep 95 to 3,000 GHz Spectrum Unlicensed for Future Innovations

Apple has asked the U.S. Federal Communication Commission to keep the unlicensed 95 to 3,000 GHz band for future innovations and other possible purposes. The company said that the FCC should not place any restrictive regulations, band plans, or predictions about future uses of the bands that could dictate outcomes and limit innovation at these frequencies.

The Commission recently said that this spectrum is a largely blank slate upon which bold new technologies can be written and proposed a “multi-platform approach” to foster the development of new technologies.

"Fortunately, the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making generally advances these goals. However, a subset of its proposals could impose rules that hamstring market-based innovation,” Apple added, that “the proposed band structure intersperses relatively narrow unlicensed bands with substantially more licensed spectrum, thereby capping the width of unlicensed bands and substantially limiting unlicensed engineering opportunities.”

Apple said that they support the Commission’s vision for the bands above 95 GHz and appreciates its continued efforts to move away from prescriptive spectrum regulations. But they think that the proposed allocation structure may preclude some technologies and services, including some that are already being considered in international proceedings.   

Apple reminded the FCC of several international efforts that are already contemplating uses for the bands, from organizations such as ETSI and the International Telecommunications Union. ETSI and the Electronic Communications Committee of the European Conference of Post and Telecommunications Administrations have a short-range radio-determination application operating between 120 GHz and 260 GHz with 60 GHz bandwidths.

The ITU is also working on high-speed, short-range communications between 275 - 400 GHz that will need wide-bandwidth spectrum for operations.

Apple is particularly worried about the prospect of being limited to "a few narrow unlicensed bands" without knowing how it might want them in the future. They asked the Commission to evaluate ways to adjust its proposal to better support the innovators who will make these bands successful.

Click here to see the letter from Apple to the FCC.