December 16, 2020
Two dozen telecoms companies and industry organisations called on regulators and other stakeholders to reserve mid-band spectrum for IMT use, especially for 5G.
In the run-up to the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), a total of 23 (by coincidence) telecom operators, vendors, and industry organisations released a joint statement to ask policy makers to recognise the importance of mid-bands spectrum for the IMT technologies (International Mobile Telecommunications, IMT, an overarching concept used in the ITU community to refer to all broadband mobile systems), and reserve the spectrum around 6GHz for 5G use. The full list of signatories is here:
The majority of the world’s commercial 5G networks have so far been deployed on the 3.3GHz-3.8GHz mid-bands, while some countries have also re-farmed the sub-1GHz low bands for 5G. The notable exceptions are the US and Japan, which have also deployed 5G on mmWave. While mobile networks on the low bands can provide broad coverage, in order to provide high capacity, mobile networks need to move up the radio frequency. This is needed to both achieve the more advanced use case that demand high data speed and to meet the data usage growth, which is already happening.
The group, led by Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, and the GSMA, argued that the current spectrum made available to 5G “will not be sufficient anymore in the future.” Therefore, “more and larger contiguous channels in the mid band range will be required by operators for cost effective future IMT/5G deployments.”
Published after a webinar titled “The 6GHz IMT Opportunity for Society”, the joint statement specifically called on the Latin American and Caribbean regulators to consider their position regarding the 6425-7125 MHz bands, as decisions are expected to be made at WRC-23. The signatories lauded the stance taken by CPET (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations). The European regulatory body has already made 5925-6425 MHz available for licence exempt use and is considering its options for the 6425-7125 MHz band.
Despite that WRC-23 is still three years away, plenty of preparation work is already underway. When it comes to 6GHz for IMT, the statement highlighted these activities:
The WRC-23 preparatory work has started in the ITU-R in relation with the possible IMT identification of the 6GHz band;
The standardization work in 3GPP is on its way paving the way for a 5G ecosystem for this band;
The 6GHz IMT testing is confirmed to start in 2021 in some pioneer markets.
The group believed that “there is great potential that this band will be identified for IMT and become available for 5G, with important benefits for consumer and various industry sectors.”
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