5G spectrum guide – everything you need to know

06 November 2018

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. Frequencies are needed across three ranges: Sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz.

To help realise 5G’s full potential, governments and regulators should aim to make available 80-100 MHz of contiguous spectrum per operator in prime 5G mid-bands (e.g. 3.5 GHz) and around 1 GHz per operator in millimetre wave bands (i.e. above 24 GHz).

Millimetre waves

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 bands. They offer the widest harmonisation with minimised user equipment complexity.

The 40 GHz band (37-43.5 GHz) is also important. Identifying the whole band for IMT at WRC-19 allows for flexibility. Doing that lets different countries and regions choose which part to implement and delivers harmonisation of equipment. It will therefore help drive the economies of scale needed to lower equipment costs.

The GSMA supports 66 to 71 GHz. The FCC decision to use this band for unlicensed 5G adds momentum to the existing support for this band in Europe, Africa, and member countries of RCC. Read more about this in the updated position paper on WRC-19 Agenda Item 1.13. See link below.

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 spectrum aside for verticals in priority 5G 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 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

For now, the GSMA 5G spectrum guide includes:

5G Spectrum Policy Positions (Updated)

The 5G spectrum guide starts with the GSMA’s key policy positions. They focus on areas where governments, regulators and the mobile industry should cooperate to make 5G a success.

Click on the language to download the updated full position paper in English, French or Spanish. There is also an infographic that sums up the issues. It is available here.

IMT Spectrum Between 24.25 and 86 GHz (Updated)

WRC-19 will be vital to realising the vision for 5G. The work at WRC-19 (centred around AI 1.13) will look at spectrum for mobile broadband in frequencies between 24.25 and 86 GHz.

Download the updated position paper in English here. There are also updated versions in French and Spanish. They are available here and here.

Enabling IMT at WRC-19 (New)

Just identifying new mmWave bands above 24 GHz for IMT at WRC-19 isn’t enough. There is a risk that unless only the optimal technical conditions are applied, IMT use of the bands will be severely restricted. This in turn will have a direct impact on 5G performance.

This document sets out the conditions needed to realise 5G’s full potential, across 26 GHz, 40 GHz and 66-71 GHz. It is available here.

26 GHz and 28 GHz are both needed for 5G (Updated)

In this infographic we take a look at countries and regions that are trialling and supporting  26 GHz and or 28 GHz. It also details bands plans and use cases.

An updated version of the infographic is available in English, French and Spanish.

Considerations for the 3.5 GHz IMT range 

Operators need new spectrum to keep up with growing mobile data and coverage demands. The 3.5 GHz IMT range offers an ideal opportunity to meet this demand. The band will be one of the first frequencies to carry 5G traffic, but first it must be licensed.

Download the report in English here, in French here and in Spanish here

Focus on local 5G efforts

The 5G era in the US 

This report from GSMA Intelligence explores the current landscape and the future outlook for 5G in the US. It focuses on network deployment, spectrum, use cases, and policy and regulation.

The full report is available here

5G in China: Outlook and regional comparisons

This report from GSMA Intelligence focuses on the outlook for 5G in China, making comparisons with the outlook in other leading markets in the region, including Japan and South Korea. It explores the near-term outlook for testing and commercial launches. The report also looks at potential use cases as well as presenting forecasts for the number of 5G connections and the key future challenges.

The full report is available here

5G in MENA: GCC operators set for global leadership

This GSMA Intelligence report looks at 5G in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region across di erent perspectives: network deployment, spectrum, use cases, market opportunities, and policy and regulation.

The full report is available here