October 25, 2023
Operator group Vodafone has managed to hit 5 Gbps in tests using the upper 6 GHz band to transmit a mobile signal to a smartphone.
The purpose of conducting the test and then issuing a press release about it was to demonstrate how important it is for that band to be reserved for mobile, as opposed to wifi. A decision on this matter is expected to be made at the ITU’s WRC23 conference, which commences on 20 November, and the wifi industry will be stating the case that it needs that extra spectrum too.
Vodafone’s campus in Madrid was chosen as the location for the test, which used an existing 5G site and a smartphone tuned to the chunk of spectrum that is up for grabs. Engineers (pictured) were able to extract a peak data rate of 5 gigabits per second (Gbps) and an average of 2 Gbps across a few indoor locations. Vodafone also claims it demonstrated the upper 6 GHz band can achieve comparable coverage to current 5G networks.
Despite having loads of more spectrum given to it than previous generations, we’re told 5G is already approaching a capacity crunch. Vodafone is seeing demand growing by a surprising 30% per year thanks to so many more devices being connected these days. Hence the clamour for ever more bandwidth.
“Without a fair and balanced allocation of 6 GHz spectrum, mobile users worldwide could face a major capacity crunch within just five years,” said Alberto Ripepi, Vodafone Chief Network Officer. “Additional 5G spectrum would boost the digital transformation of businesses and public sector organisations, and support the European Commission’s ambition to have fast connectivity within reach of all populated areas by 2030.”
All options – mobile, wifi, and shared – are still open for the upper 6 GHz band. Since the wifi industry has already been granted the lower 6 GHz band, Vodafone thinks it’s only fair for mobile to get the rest of it. The shared option risks delivering the worst of both worlds, as it could only be achieved by restricting mobile base station power levels, which in turn would reduce the data rate improvements demonstrated in this trial.
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