FCC Opens 3.5GHZ OnGo Band for Commercial Use to Improve 4G and 5G Connectivity


The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the approval to OnGo which uses the 3.5GHz band for use in a wide variety of scenarios including improving mobile data speeds and connectivity on 4G and 5G networks.

OnGo is backed by the CBRS Alliance comprising of over 159 member companies including Google, Qualcomm, Intel, Ruckus Networks, and more. OnGo promises to provide “access to uncompromised connectivity, at a fraction of the cost” associated with LTE while its deployment is as simple as Wi-Fi. The work to open up the 3.5GHz spectrum to the public has been ongoing since 2013. The FCC voted to open the frequency to the public in 2015 but multiple disputes led to this delay.

The FCC has made Google, Sony, CommScope and Federated Wireless Inc. the Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators meaning they are now authorized to make the 3.5GHz band available for commercial purposes.

By opening up the 3.5GHz band, the United States government has opened up capacity and coverage for 4G networks. This move will also help in the rollout of 5G. 3.5GHz is a mid-frequency band that is already being used in China, Europe, and South Korea for rolling out 5G.

The 3.5GHz frequency is used by the Department of Defense for the radar systems on ships. In coastal areas, a protection zone will be activated that will automatically assign users on the 3.5GHz band to other frequencies.

Interestingly, a number of smartphones in the market already support the 3.5GHz band. The latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro support the  3.5GHz band. Other flagship Android smartphones like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Galaxy S10, and Google Pixel 4 also support this frequency.