Spectrum in the 6 GHz range (5925-7125 MHz) provides the bandwidth to allow affordable connectivity for a 5G society.
5G is a pillar of digital transformation. Its integration into our lives and work has the potential to impact communities and economies, and as it delivers transformational services it can boost global GDP by US$2.2 trillion. In 2019, mobile technologies and services generated 4.7% of GDP across the globe. By 2024, the contribution is predicted to increase to 4.9% of GDP. This can only happen, however, if sufficient spectrum resources are in place to provide the capacity for innovation and development.
The 6 GHz range is a mid-band frequency and sits at a balancing point between coverage and capacity, providing the perfect environment for citywide 5G connectivity. Harmonisation of 6 GHz spectrum will provide more bandwidth and improve network performance. On top of this, the broad, contiguous channels offered by the 6 GHz range will reduce the need for network densification in cities if mid-band spectrum is not made available, and make next-generation connectivity more affordable for all.
5G use cases are broad, moving well beyond mobile broadband. They aim to accelerate the digital transformation of all industries and sectors. This transformation is crucial for the environment, helping to reduce emissions throughout the different industries and promote an era where connectivity replaces carbon. In order to reach all users, however, industries will require the extra capacity that the 6 GHz range offers.
Next-generation Industry 4.0, smart cities, health care, intelligent transport systems, and virtual reality applications all depend on the bandwidth, coverage and capacity 5G offers. Also, providing fixed broadband via 5G will transform connectivity in areas where fibre is not available. It can reach homes and businesses quickly and affordably compared to fibre.
Research from Coleago Consulting on mid-band 5G spectrum needs in Europe shows that an additional 1 to 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum is required to meet the IMT-2020 user experienced data rates of 100 Mbit/s (downlink) and 50 Mbit/s (uplink), defined by the ITU-R, for citywide high-capacity coverage in the 2025-2030 timeframe.
Also, additional mid-band spectrum for FWA would reduce by the cost of achieving the EU 2025 connectivity target of 100 Mbit/s broadband for all households by €42 billion. Connectivity along major transport routes will also benefit from the availability of additional mid-bands spectrum.
The WRC Opportunity for Development
The 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) will play a decisive role in determining future access to the upper 6 GHz range (6425-7125 MHz). It provides the opportunity to harmonise the band across large parts of the planet and help continue development of the 6 GHz ecosystem.
Balanced decisions on the use of this range can allow licence-exempt technologies, when needed, to make use of the lower part of the band where required while reserving the upper portion at 6425-7125 MHz for licensed 5G.
Both technologies need the space to thrive and mobile operators have a history of maximising the impact of spectrum resources. Support from policy makers is vital to ensure benefits to economy and society are maximised.
To expand the benefits of the 6 GHz range, policy shouldmakers:
- Make at least 6425-7125 MHz available for licenced 5G.
- Ensure backhaul services are protected. Backhaul is present in the majority of the countries in the entire band. This is the lowest band widely used and needs to be taken into account.
- Depending on countries’ needs, incumbent use and fibre footprint, the bottom half of the 6 GHz range at 5925-6425 MHz could be opened on a licence-exempt basis with technology neutral rules.
Capitalising on the 5G opportunity
Policy makers must play their part to leverage the opportunity of 5G through assigning the 6 GHz band. The integration of 5G into our lives and work will impact communities, create jobs and drive forward economic growth. Its success is crucial for the environment as 5G will support an era where connectivity reduces carbon emissions. 6 GHz capacity can help support the communications backbone of a global green economy and provide machine and human connectivity to enhance the availability of 5G for all.
Read more about the importance of mid-band 5G spectrum at: https://www.gsma.com/spectrum/5g-spectrum-guide