To help navigate spectrum needs for next-generation mobile networks, this 5G spectrum guide collects reports, infographics and positions from the GSMA. From sub-1 GHz coverage spectrum to millimetre waves, it is all needed to make most of this new technology.
Trials and the first commercial services are already showing what great potential 5G networks have. But significant amounts of widely harmonised spectrum is a must for this potential to come true. 5G spectrum is needed across three ranges: Sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz.
Pioneering ultra-high speeds and the lowest latencies are dependent on access to spectrum in the latter range. Here, 26 GHz and 28 GHz have emerged as two of the most important 5G spectrum bands. They offer the widest harmonisation with minimised user equipment complexity.
To increase flexibility, 40 GHz (37-43.5 GHz) is also important. At WRC-19, countries supported a harmonised identification of 26 GHz, 40 GHz, and 66 GHz for ultra-high-speed and ultra-low latency consumer, business and government services. The conference also made it possible to start using 50 GHz for 5G.
The result means national governments around the world now have the opportunity to consider 5G spectrum assignments across the identified mmWave spectrum. In doing so, they will help deliver long-lasting socio-economic benefits. Not every country will assign all frequencies, but the burgeoning global ecosystem around mmWave spectrum gets a big boost from the results at WRC-19 with the certainty of the identification now written into a UN treaty.
5G spectrum for coverage and capacity
Mobile operators also need access to spectrum below 1 GHz as well as between 1 GHz and 6 GHz. In the latter group, the 3.5 GHz range is getting a lot of traction. Any country that wants to take the lead on 5G rollouts should make it available to operators as soon as possible.
Mobile operators are best positioned to make the most of 5G. Setting 5G spectrum aside for verticals in priority bands could jeopardise the success of public 5G services and may waste spectrum. Sharing approaches like leasing are better options where verticals require access to spectrum.
However, success isn’t just about allocating new spectrum bands. The GSMA calls on governments and regulators to prioritise mobile broadband services – above revenue maximisation – when awarding new frequencies. High 5G spectrum prices threaten affordable, high quality mobile broadband services whether for 5G or other generations.
It the end, this is something regulators and governments have to get right if they want their country or region to be at the forefront of 5G innovation