Balanced 6 GHz decisions continue as regional and global trend

Following a recent decision from telecom regulator IFT, Mexico has joined a growing number of countries that are keeping their regulatory options open for the 6 GHz band – an important decision for the future of 5G.

IFT has limited the unlicensed use of the 6 GHz range to the 5925-6425 MHz band. Use of the upper 700 MHz (6425 to 7125 MHz) remains unchanged. A future decision on the upper band will depend on technology evolution, as well as the needs, availability of services and behaviour of the Mexican market.

Governments around the world are making considered decisions on the most efficient use of 6 GHz. It represents the largest remaining single block of mid-band spectrum that can be assigned to licensed mobile in the foreseeable future. For countries that want to maximise the socio-economic benefits delivered by 6 GHz and invest in the future of mobile, deployment of 5G in the upper part of the band is crucial.

The future of 6 GHz is one of the items up for discussion at WRC-23. While the WRC agenda discusses the entire 6425-7125 MHz band in only the EMEA region, there is support for using this spectrum for licensed mobile throughout the world.

Mexico is the latest country from outside the ITU’s Region 1 (EMEA) contemplating broader harmonisation of the 6 GHz range. Late last year, Chile’s Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications decided to go for the same approach, reversing an earlier decision to make the whole band available for Wi-Fi. Discussions at the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity also showed the growing interest in the band’s development. In EMEA, meanwhile, there is already preliminary support in Africa and the CIS for 5G in the upper 6 GHz band, as well as several major Middle Eastern and European markets. A recent report on the future of 6 GHz in Brazil looks at why taking 6 GHz for 5G seriously makes a lot of sense for governments and regulators in all parts of the world.

If WRC-23 supports an identification, the outlook for the 6 GHz IMT ecosystem is robust, according to a report from GSMA Intelligence. The report found there are no technical barriers to developing, and commercialising, 6 GHz IMT solutions.

Market development is progressing also. 6 GHz tests performed in the UAE, Italy and Germany showed devices and infrastructure solutions can operate in the band with similar behaviour to 3.5 GHz. Critical players in device component and network infrastructure ecosystems are ready to develop 6 GHz IMT products in line with customer demand. Ecosystem players expect they can have solutions ready in 6 to 12 months from a positive WRC decision. With that a new era of 5G connectivity starts.

Mid-bands will deliver the most economic value of the three spectrum ranges – low, mid- and high bands – that are required for 5G. They will drive an increase of more than $610 billion in global GDP in 2030, producing almost 65% of the overall socio-economic value generated by 5G. However, if spectrum is constrained to today’s assignments, 40% of that impact could be lost: $360bn in 2030 alone.

To safeguard future growth and innovation, mobile requires 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum to meet demand by 2030. 6 GHz will be vital to reaching that goal.

Learn more about 5G spectrum by visiting our dedicated guide.

Read this blog in Spanish here.