GSMA Calls for 2 GHz of Mid-Band Spectrum to meet ITU-R speed requirements (explained)

The mobile industry will need an average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum this decade to meet the ITU data speed requirements (ITU-R recommendation not stated, but this author believes it to be M.2410 (11/2017)) [1.]. Achieving this will also minimize environmental impact and lower consumer costs of 5G, according to a global study of 36 cities published by the GSMA but carried out by Coleago Consulting.

The “Vision 2030 Insights for Mid-band Spectrum Needs” study suggests that policymakers should license spectrum to mobile operators in harmonized bands, such as 3.5 GHz, 4.8 GHz and, 6 GHz to meet the ITU’s requirements by 2030. Without the additional spectrum, it will be impossible to realise the full potential of 5G in some cases. In others, the number of antennas and base stations needed will lead to higher carbon emissions and consumer prices. The additional spectrum will lower the carbon footprint of networks by two-to-three times while enhancing the sustainable development of mobile connectivity, according to the study.

This spectrum will also make 5G more affordable. Total costs would be three- to five-times higher over a decade in cities where a deficit of 800-1000 MHz would increase the number of base stations needed and increase deployment costs in each city by $782 million to $5.8 billion.

The actual amount of mid-band spectrum required varies significantly by city, mid-band being roughly 1500 MHz-6 GHz. Population density, spread of base stations, availability of small cells and WiFi offload, and 5G activity levels, amongst other things, will have an impact on how much spectrum any given city needs.

Hong Kong tops the list of 36 cities studied by Coleago Consulting with an upper estimate of 3.7 GHz of mid-band spectrum required, while Tehran ranks at the bottom with a requirement of up to 1.2 GHz. As such, the amount of additional spectrum each city needs is also variable. However, the important message is that all cities need more spectrum than they are set to have, and the additional amount required is “far greater” than that currently planned for release, the GSMA said.

“Without the additional spectrum, it will be impossible to realize the full potential of 5G in some cases. In others, the number of antennas and base stations needed will lead to higher carbon emissions and consumer prices,” GSMA warned.

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Note 1.  ITU-R M.2410 data rate requirements for IMT 2020 (11/2017):

Peak data rate: is the maximum achievable data rate under ideal conditions (in bit/s), which is the received data bits assuming error-free conditions assignable to a single mobile station, when all assignable radio resources for the corresponding link direction are utilized (i.e. excluding radio resources that are used for physical layer synchronization, reference signals or pilots, guard bands and guard times). This requirement is defined for the purpose of evaluation in the eMBB usage scenario. The minimum requirements for peak data rate are:
– Downlink peak data rate is 20 Gbit/s.
– Uplink peak data rate is 10 Gbit/s

Peak spectral efficiency: is the maximum data rate under ideal conditions normalized by channel bandwidth (in bit/s/Hz), where the maximum data rate is the received data bits assuming error-free conditions assignable to a single mobile station, when all assignable radio resources for the corresponding link direction are utilized (i.e. excluding radio resources that are used for physical layer synchronization, reference signals or pilots, guard bands and guard times).
This requirement is defined for the purpose of evaluation in the eMBB usage scenario. The minimum requirements for peak spectral efficiencies are:
– Downlink peak spectral efficiency is 30 bit/s/Hz.
– Uplink peak spectral efficiency is 15 bit/s/Hz.

User experienced data rate: is the 5% point of the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of the user throughput. User throughput (during active time) is defined as the number of correctly received bits, i.e. the number of bits contained in the service data units (SDUs) delivered to Layer 3, over a certain period of time.  This requirement is defined for the purpose of evaluation in the related eMBB test environment. The target values for the user experienced data rate in the Dense Urban – eMBB test environment:
– Downlink user experienced data rate is 100 Mbit/s.
– Uplink user experienced data rate is 50 Mbit/s.

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Mid-band spectrum availability also will enhance Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). The study shows that with the additional 2 GHz, five-times more households will be covered with each base station, allowing affordable high-speed internet to reach beyond the fiber footprint at a fraction of the cost.

The World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023 is a crucial opportunity to align global policies for mid-band solutions for mobile. This spectrum will ensure mobile operators can deliver the ITU targets of 100 Mbps download speeds and 50 Mbps upload speeds to meet future needs of consumers and businesses.

Therefore, the GSMA asks that regulators:

  • Plan to make an average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum available in the 2025-2030 time frame to guarantee the IMT-2020 requirements for 5G;
  • Carefully consider 5G spectrum demands when 5G usage increases and advanced use cases will carry additional needs;
  • Base spectrum decisions on real-world factors including, population density and extent of fibre rollout; and
  • Support harmonized mid-band 5G spectrum (e.g., within the 3.5 GHz, 4.8 GHz and 6 GHz ranges) and facilitate technology upgrades in existing bands.

“Coordinated regional decisions will lead to a WRC which enables the future of 5G and supports wider broadband take-up by increasing capacity and reducing costs,” the GSMA said.

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References:

https://www.gsma.com/newsroom/press-release/gsma-calls-for-2-ghz-of-mid-band-spectrum-to-meet-un-targets/

https://www.gsma.com/spectrum/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/5G-Mid-Band-Spectrum-Needs-Vision-2030.pdf

https://telecoms.com/510489/lack-of-mid-band-spectrum-could-cost-operators-billions-of-dollars-gsma/

GMSA vs ITU-R, FCC & U.S. Tech Companies on use of 6GHz band: Licensed 5G or Unlicensed WiFi?

Introduction:

There’s a huge disagreement on the use of the 6 GHz band for wireless communications.  GSMA strongly says it’s needed for 5G, ITU-R WRC-23 only has it on their agenda for world region 1, the FCC has opened up that band for unlicensed operation, while a group of big tech companies say 6 GHz unlicensed WiFi is an economic winner and have asked the FCC for additional communications capabilities.

GSMA Position – Licensed 6 GHz for 5G:

In a May 17th GSMA blog post, the GSMA trade group warns that the 6GHz band is urgently needed for licensed (terrestrial) 5G operations, but that governments are diverging [1.] in their plans for same. “The global future of 5G is at risk says GSMA in the first sentence of their post.

“The 6 GHz band is essential not only for mobile network operators to provide enhanced affordable connectivity for greater social inclusion, but also to deliver the data speeds and capacity needed for smart cities, transport, and factories. It is estimated that 5G networks need 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum over the next decade to deliver on its full potential. [reference 1]”

Note 1.  Different Approaches for the 6 GHz band

China will use the entire 1200 MHz in the 6 GHz band for 5G. Europe has split the band, with the upper part considered for 5G, but a new 500 MHz tranche available for Wi-Fi. Africa and parts of the Middle East are taking a similar approach.

At the other extreme, the U.S. and much of Latin America have declared that none of this valuable resource will be made avail able for 5G, but rather will be offered to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed band technologies.  Also see the section Worldwide Status of Unlicensed 6 GHz below for more on this controversial topic.

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“5G has the potential to boost the world’s GDP by $2.2 trillion,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer for the GSMA. “But there is a clear threat to this growth if sufficient 6 GHz spectrum is not made available for 5G. Clarity and certainty are essential to fostering the massive, long-term investments in this critical infrastructure.”

GSMA opines that 5G is accelerating the digital transformation of all industries and sectors, unleashing new waves of innovation that will benefit billions. This technology is crucial for the environment and climate goals as connectivity replaces carbon. In order to reach all users, however, industries will require the extra capacity that the 6 GHz band offers.

The GSMA calls on governments to:

  • Make at least 6,425-7,125 MHz available for licensed 5G;
  • Ensure backhaul services are protected; and
  • Depending on countries’ needs, incumbent use and fiber footprint, the bottom half of the 6 GHz range at 5,925-6,425 MHz could be opened on a license-exempt basis with technology neutral rules.

The GSMA also published a statement with Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE that further details the importance of the 6 GHz band for the future of 5G.  That document states, “Extending the bandwidth of 5G through the harmonization of 6 GHz spectrum will provide more bandwidth and improve network performance. On top of this, the broad, contiguous channels offered by the 6 GHz range will reduce the need for network densification and make next-generation connectivity more affordable for all.

About GSMA:

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with almost 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in BarcelonaLos Angeles, and Shanghai, as well as the Thrive Series of regional conferences. The GSMA continues to work with partners that share its commitment to sustainable development and economic growth. Click here to find out more.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

Media Contact: pressoffice@gsma.com

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ITU-R (WRC-2023) and FCC Positions:

1.   GSMA says the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023 (WRC-23) will provide the opportunity to harmonize the 6 GHz band across large parts of the world and help develop the ecosystem.  That is not entirely correct as their related work item 1.2 only covers 6 GHz IMT for region 1, which comprises Europe, Africa, the former Soviet Union, Mongolia, and the Middle East west of the Persian Gulf, including Iraq.

2.  The FCC voted last year to allocate the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed operations, including Wi-Fi. Commercial Wi-Fi devices working in the 6 GHz band have already begun hitting the market.

The FCC’s vote represented a setback to some players like Ericsson, Verizon and T-Mobile that had urged the Commission to set aside some or all of the 6GHz band for licensed uses, including 5G.

In it’s latest WRC-23 related document, the FCC made no move to reverse their decision on unlicensed 6 GHz.  More importantly, they have not requested a broadening of the 6 GHz band for 5G to include the U.S. or any other world region besides region 1.  According to that FCC document:

WRC-23 agenda item 1.2 will consider the possibility of identifying IMT in the frequency bands 3 600-3 800 MHz and 3 300-3 400 MHz (Region 2); 3 300-3 400 MHz (amend footnote in Region 1); 7 025-7 125 MHz (globally); 6 425-7 025 MHz (Region 1); 10 000-10 500 MHz (Region 2).

Sharing and compatibility studies will need to be conducted, with a view to ensuring the protection of existing services to which the frequency band is allocated on a primary basis, without imposing additional regulatory or technical constraints on those services, and also, as appropriate, protection of services in adjacent bands.

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Tech Companies Meet with FCC on Unlicensed Use of the 6 GHz band:

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies at Light Reading said that representatives from Apple, Broadcom Facebook, Google, Qualcomm (the #1 supplier of 5G silicon) and two attorney’s from Wiltshire & Grannis LLP  met (via video conference) with the legal advisor to FCC Commisioner Carr on May 13th to discuss the “Unlicensed Use of the 6 GHz Band.”

The 5 big tech companies collectively supported the FCC’s 6 GHz decision noting that the FCC unlicensed 6 GHz order adopted carefully considered rules that will protect incumbents while permitting innovation in fixed unlicensed equipment and operations.

The next step is to meet consumers’ expectation for mobility and portability through the pending FCC Public Notice and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) for expanded use of the 6 GHz band in the U.S.   They recommend the following additional capabilities:

  1. Client-to-client communications (which would allow devices to talk directly to each other).
  2. Very Low Power operations (which would allow low-power communications without Automatic Frequency Coordination technology).
  3. Mobile operations (which would permit mobile connections using Automatic Frequency Coordination technology for services such as mass transit connectivity).

The companies said that WiFi has been “an economic powerhouse.”  In particular:

• Wi-Fi is projected to contribute nearly $1 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2021

• $3.3 trillion contributed globally in 2021

• That contribution will grow to $1.58 trillion by 2025 in the U.S.

• $4.9 trillion global contribution by 2025

• Wi-Fi 6 and 6 GHz devices are significant contributors to this expected growth

Unlicensed bands (NOT 5G) are the workhorses of the wireless economy: 

  • Unlicensed bands carry half of all internet traffic in the U.S., a figure that is growing each year
  • LTE offload to unlicensed will increase with 5G, from 54% of traffic in 2017 to 59% by 2022
  • Unlicensed is the on-ramp to broadband for American homes, enterprise wireless, rural
    communities, schools, healthcare facilities, and more
  • Unlicensed spectrum is also the backbone for new IoT networks
  • Key economic sectors—manufacturing, logistics, and research—depend on Wi-Fi for business
    processes and internal connections
  • Quotient and Qualcomm studies have demonstrated an enormous unlicensed
    spectrum shortfall in the mid-band
  • The 6 GHz band is central to addressing this pressing need

Worldwide Status of Unlicensed 6 GHz:

Of the top 20 economies in the world, fully half have opened, or are in the process of opening the 6  GHz band to unlicensed use—the U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, France, Canada, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.  In Europe, the CEPT decision opening 6 GHz is expected to become European law in March 2021 and will shortly be followed by country-specific implementations.

Proposed 6 GHz Channel Map for Unlicensed WiFi:

Image Credit:  Wireless Training Solutions

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References:

https://www.gsma.com/newsroom/press-release/gsma-calls-on-governments-to-license-6-ghz-to-power-5g/

https://www.gsma.com/spectrum/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/6-GHz-Capacity-to-Power-Innovation.pdf

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/gsma-5g-is-at-risk-if-6ghz-remains-unlicensed/d/d-id/769600?

https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/1051767219870/6%20GHz%20Thumann%20Ex%20Parte%20(May%2013%202021).pdf

https://www.coleago.com/app/uploads/2021/01/Demand-for-IMT-spectrum-Coleago-14-Dec-2020.pdf