Network giant Nokia has already spoken with a number of major players in the near-future 5G arena, and according to Nokia America CTO Mike Murphy, the company has "zero doubt" that one or more of those companies is already hard at work on a 5G deployment in the 3.5GHz spectrum range. Nokia is in talks with a wide range of wireless and cable operators around the world, including many in the United States. The company is helping many of these companies to take advantage of 3.5GHz mmWave spectrum by selling them network equipment, and helping them to retrofit current equipment in some cases. Murphy did not say exactly what companies Nokia was talking to about using 3.5GHz deployments for 5G.
As far as 3.5GHz 5G, Charter Communications said back in January that it was actually in the testing phase already. A number of other companies, including T-Mobile and industry authority CTIA, have asked the FCC to loosen up rules surrounding that particular block of spectrum. Though operators across the industry are clamoring to use 3.5GHz spectrum, nobody has actually deployed anything on this band right now. Nokia itself has performed extensive testing in this band in the past, including interoperability testing with other bands hand in hand with chip and network giant Qualcomm.
3.5GHz spectrum falls under mmWave, short for millimeter wave. This new wave of high-band spectrum boasts extreme capacity and speed, but its performance in the areas of long-range broadcasting and building and ground penetration is markedly inferior to lower bands. This makes wide-range deployments with mmWave in the near future entirely impractical. Instead, the higher bands are being earmarked for use in small cell networks, which use large amounts of closely spaced hotspots to create an interwoven network wherein each piece of network equipment provides a high-speed, low-latency connection to a relatively small amount of devices. These types of networks will be the primary method of service in large metropolitan areas, while many operators will be deploying small hardware upgrades and software overhauls on their more conventional LTE equipment to serve large tracts in rural areas. These access points typically serve a few fixed customers with large amounts of data, and provide lighter uses like streaming music, news, navigation, and communications for motorists on rural highways.