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By Jeremy Horwitz


Across most of the world, early 5G networks are harmonizing on a specific stretch of wireless spectrum — the 3.5GHz band — but in the United States, that spectrum was reserved years ago for naval radar systems and named the “Citizens Broadband Radio Service” (CBRS). Following years of technical and legal work to enable the Navy and cellular carriers to share the 3.5GHz band, the CBRS Alliance today announced that a 5G-specific sharing standard is under development, with 5G service planned to commence on the band in 2020.

The announcement is significant for one reason: It will make global 5G smartphones easier to develop and sell. Unlike early 5G deployments in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, which focused largely on the “midrange” 3.5GHz band, early U.S. 5G deployments have relied exclusively on 28GHz and higher frequency millimeter wave bands, requiring cutting-edge technologies that are more challenging to shrink into smartphone-sized devices.

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