5G Spectrum: The Impacts of WRC-19

MWC Insider Blog

Post date

January 10, 2020

By Dr. Jyrki Penttinen, Senior Technology Manager, GSMA North America

The benefits of 5G include faster data speed, lower latency, and the support of massive IoT traffic. Nevertheless, in order to take full advantage of its capacity, the mobile network operators need more bandwidth.The ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) is in a key role to make this happen in the global scale. The recently held WRC-19 discussed and updated the radio frequency allocations. This very event was so far the most relevant in the efforts to pave the way for high-capacity mmWave bands of 5G. The new bands include 26 GHz, 40 GHz, and 66 GHz, and regulators can allocate national bands based on those. This activity is of utmost importance to ensure a fair balance between the commercial operations and other entities needing the spectrum.

While the low-bands, referring to frequencies below 1 GHz, are capable to cover largest areas, their available bandwidth is rather limited so they are suitable for relatively low bitrate services. Their large coverage makes them an excellent base for the users on rural areas and for the remotely located IoT devices.

The mid-band, referring to the frequency range of 1-6 GHz, supports wider bands, which translates to higher data speeds and greater capacity for simultaneously connected consumer and other 5G devices. The mid-band coverage is smaller than that of low-band but it offers a good compromise between the coverage and capacity. Mid-band is thus especially useful in sub-urban and urban environments.

The high-band is less congested and has large blocks of capacity. Nevertheless, its coverage is very limited, making the high-band most useful in the densest city centers. As a rule of thumb, the high-band small-cells offer the most performant 5G services in focused areas while the overlapping lower bands take care of the more basic services.

Thanks to the new bands of WRC-19, the operators will have now more options for their 5G deployment strategies.

Please find more information on the 5G frequencies here:

Dr. Jyrki Penttinen has worked in mobile telecommunications in Finland, Spain, Mexico, and the USA. At present, he assists operator members with the adoption, design, development, and deployment of GSMA specifications and programmes. Dr. Penttinen has also authored 5G and other telecommunication books. You can find more of his articles on LinkedIn.

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