Vodafone announced that it has conducted what it claims is the world’s first test of 5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), based on a combination of two low spectrum bands in its VIP lab in Dusseldorf, Germany. The company used simultaneously the 700MHz and 800MHz bands on a 5G non-standalone device. The frequency in the 800MHz range was used as the “anchor band”, while the 700MHz frequencies were shared between 4G and 5G.
The tests were conducted with suppliers Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm which used its Snapdragon X55 5G modem (which supports 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz spectrum bands and can deliver speeds of up to 7 Gbps over 5G and 2.5 Gbps on Cat 22 LTE).
Vodafone claims this is a world first in cellular radio. 2G, 3G and 4G standards were initially rolled out on dedicated blocks of spectrum, which meant that re-allocating for the next generation was an extremely slow – not to mention expensive – process. With dynamic spectrum sharing, this can be done overnight with a simple software upgrade.
DSS allows network operators to deliver both 4G and 5G within the same spectrum, enabling a smooth transition between the two technologies and therefore a more cost-effective rollout. While the technology has already been demonstrated, the unique aspect of last month’s test was the simultaneous use of two low frequency bands (700MHz and 800MHz) on a 5G non-standalone device. 800MHz was used as the “anchor band” while 700MHz was shared dynamically between 4G and 5G, allowing operators to seamlessly allocate spectrum resources according to demands on the network.
Without DSS, an operator that has 20 MHz of mid-band spectrum would have to split that spectrum in two. In other words, they would have to allocate 10 MHz of spectrum to 4G LTE and cram all their LTE users into that 10 MHz of spectrum. Then the remaining 10 MHz of AWS spectrum could be used for 5G, even though initially there will only be a minimal number of 5G users.
With DSS, an operator doesn’t have to split that mid-band spectrum or have a dedicated spectrum for either 4G LTE or 5G. Instead, they can share that 20 MHz of spectrum between the two technologies.
For operators, DSS technology means they will be able to unleash the potential of 5G quicker, both for consumers and in industry, and ensure coverage over a wider area than ever before. It will also lay the foundations for the future technologies that will rely on 5G.
How does DSS benefit for the end-user? Most importantly, it means better 5G coverage, with lower latency and higher quality (in addition to faster download speeds) for consumers sooner. DSS on low bands will also be significant in enabling low latency applications and deeper in-building coverage.
Dynamic spectrum sharing will no doubt play an integral role in ensuring a seamless global rollout of 5G and this test is a significant step towards offering this next-generation connectivity for all. Through industry collaboration such as these, we can make that leap sooner, revolutionising the lives of consumers and enabling business innovation across the globe.