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Intel and Intelsat partner on plan to free up 5G airwaves

John Locher / AP

Intel and satellite company Intelsat are joining forces to propose making airwaves used by satellites available for 5G wireless networks that are vital to the growing Internet of Things. They've filed their proposal with the FCC in response to the agency's request for ideas on using certain types of wireless spectrum for 5G.

Why it matters: 5G networks are the next frontier in wireless connectivity, especially with the rise of connected devices ranging from appliances to cars.

The details:

  • The proposed plan would see the FCC create incentives for satellite providers to free up their airwaves for use on the ground. Peter Pitsch, Intel's Executive Director of Communications Policy, said that "the big news here is that Intel and Intelsat, who are leading representatives of two warring factions in this part of the proceeding, are coming together with a proposal that we think would make spectrum available quickly and efficiently, much to the benefit of consumers generally,"
  • Intel and Intelsat say that would let them move the airwaves to the public within one to three years, faster than they say would be possible if the FCC mandated that the rights to the airwaves be reallocated.
  • They say that the voluntary plan would be "good for society and American consumers" while also letting satellite companies figure out how to deal with their existing customers.

What's next?: The plan would require a formal FCC rulemaking to become reality. So, for now, this is the two companies' way of planting a flag for their idea.