Oxymoron: 3GPP approves Ligado’s L-Band Spectrum for 5G Private Networks

Overview:

Ligado Networks today announced it received approvals from Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for new technical specifications that will enable its L-band spectrum [1.] to be deployed in 5G networks.

Note 1. L band is the IEEE designation for the range of frequencies in the radio spectrum from 1 to 2 gigahertz (GHz).  Since World War II, radar systems engineers have used letter designations as a short notation for describing the frequency band of operation. This usage has continued throughout the years and is now an accepted practice of radar engineers. Radar-frequency letter designations are used for the following reasons:

1) They provide a convenient method for describing the band in which the radar operates without the need for awkwardly stating the limits of the frequency in numerical terms. For example, it is more convenient to say an L-band radar than a 1215 MHz to 1400 MHz radar. This is especially important in titles of published papers on radar, in advertising of radar systems and components, or in any other situation where a short notation is desired.

2) In military radar systems, the exact frequency of operation cannot usually be disclosed, but it is permissible in many cases to describe the band in which it operates. The letter designations permit this.

3) Each radar-frequency band has its own particular characteristics. Thus an X-band radar will be different from an S-band radar. The letter designations are often used in this manner to indicate the particular nature of the radar as it is influenced by its frequency. There are vast differences in characteristics, applications, and environmental constraints which distinguish radars in the different bands. It is the need to communicate concisely the whole set of characteristics which are shared by S-band radar, as distinguished from L-band radar, C-band radar, and the others, which requires the established usage of letter designations.

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Why is 3GPP “approval” of L-Band an oxymoron?  Because 3GPP specifications have no legal standing and must be transposed by SDOs (like ETSI and ITU-R) before they become de jure standards.  The best example of that were the 3GPP RIT/SRIT submissions to ITU-R WP5D which became the main part of ITU-R M.2150 (previously referred to as IMT 2020 Radio Access Network).

From the 3GPP website under the heading Official Publications:

The 3GPP Technical Specifications and Technical Reports have, in themselves, no legal standing. They only become “official” when transposed into corresponding publications of the Partner Organizations (or the national / regional standards body acting as publisher for the Partner). At this point, the specifications are referred to as UMTS within ETSI and FOMA within ARIB/TTC.

Some TRs (mainly those with numbers of the form xx.8xx) are not intended for publication, but are retained as internal working documents of 3GPP. Once a Release is frozen (see definition in 3GPP TR 21.900), its specifications are published by the Partners.

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How Frequencies get standardized for International Mobile Telecommunications:

IMT frequencies for all the G’s are agreed upon once every four years at the ITU-R WRC.  The last one was WRC 19 in Egypt.  After that, they are sent to ITU-R WP5D for detailed IMT terrestrial frequency arrangements, which are then added to a revision of ITU-R M.1036.  Once that M.1036 revision is approved, it is rubber stamped by ITU-R SG5 which meets once per year in November.

As of the close of last week’s WP5D meeting, there was no consensus on approving the WRC 19 specified mmW frequencies to be used with IMT 2150.   Hence, the revision of M.1036 to include 5G frequencies has not been approved yet.  One WP 5D meeting left to get that done this year prior to SG 5 meeting this November.

Ligado or the ITU-R 3GPP representative (currently ATIS) would have to submit their L-Band frequencies to WP 5D before their October 2021 meeting to get it approved as a frequency band to be used for M.2150 (the official one and only 5G RAN standard).

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Ligado wants to expand the L-Band vendor ecosystem and deploy new mid-band spectrum in 5G networks in the U.S. Ligado is currently developing a 5G Mobile Private Network Solution designed to bring the power of next-generation networks to the energy, manufacturing, health care, transportation, and other critical infrastructure sectors.

“This is a major milestone for us – in an already momentous year – and advances our vision to deploy this spectrum for a range of next-generation services,” said Ligado CEO Doug Smith. “The 3GPP green light gives us what we need to accelerate our commercial ecosystem activities and expand Ligado’s roster of partners to deploy this much-needed spectrum for U.S. businesses and consumers.”

3GPP approvals of Band 24 (1.5 GHz and 1.6 GHz) may encourage vendors to build PRE-STANDARD 5G and LTE products compatible with Ligado’s mid-band spectrum. Ligado has already entered into commercial agreements with multiple 5G base station and chipset vendors. The company has also announced a collaboration with pioneering network operator Rakuten Mobile to showcase its 5G Mobile Private Network Solution, and the companies plan to deploy lab and field trials over the next 12 months.

The items that were approved at this week’s 3GPP plenary meeting include updates to Ligado’s existing LTE Band 24 (1.5 GHz and 1.6 GHz); a new 5G NR Band labeled n24; a new 5G NR Supplemental Uplink (SUL) Band labeled n99; and NR Carrier Aggregation (CA) and SUL band combinations for n24 and n99 with CBRS, C-Band and EBS/BRS spectrum. The approvals of SUL band n99 and band combinations will help facilitate the deployments of L-Band spectrum with other mid-band airwaves like the C-Band, CBRS, and EBS spectrum bands.

“Receiving these 3GPP approvals is a huge springboard to deploy the L-Band in U.S. 5G networks, and we’re excited to have continued support from several industry-leading vendors,” said Chief Technology Officer Maqbool Aliani. “Bringing this additional mid-band spectrum to the 5G market will help the U.S. roll out next-generation deployments more quickly, at lower costs, and with superior network performance.”

Ligado submitted these work items to 3GPP in June 2020 after winning unanimous, bipartisan approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modify its existing spectrum license. In October 2020, the company announced it had successfully raised nearly $4 billion to develop and deploy the L-Band in 5G networks.

For years, it’s been rumored that Ligado wanted to sell its spectrum to the highest bidder, probably a wireless carrier desiring mid-band 5G spectrum. While that hasn’t happened, some still see it as a valuable resource for the Verizon or AT&T.  If T-Mobile or Dish acquired the L-band, they would extend their advantage even further, according to New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin in a September 2020 report.

“The final major step for Ligado will involve getting chipset and radio vendors to incorporate the L-Band into their designs, paving the way for a carrier to deploy the L-Band on towers and small cells and to sell devices that contain L-Band-supporting chipsets,” Chaplin wrote in a report for investors today. “This final leg of the process is likely to take some time, but could be accelerated by the support of a large industry player (one of the carriers), who can more easily encourage their vendors to integrate the spectrum into their equipment.”

Also, several analysts believe that the demand for private wireless networking equipment could eventually double the market for public wireless networks.

About Ligado Networks:

Building on 25 years of experience providing crucial satellite connectivity, Ligado’s mission is to modernize American businesses by delivering the 5G connectivity solutions needed to transform their operations and realize the efficiencies of a digital world. Our plans to deploy licensed mid-band spectrum in public and private 5G networks will help pave the way for future innovations and economic growth across America.

For further information:

Ligado Networks Media Contact:
Ashley Durmer, Chief Communications Officer and Head of Congressional Affairs
Tel: 703-390-2008
Ashley@ligado.com

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/3gpp-approves-band-specifications-of-ligados-l-band-spectrum-for-5g-deployment-301316320.html

https://www.fiercewireless.com/private-wireless/ligado-obtains-3gpp-approvals-for-l-band-5g

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/29086

Busting a Myth: 3GPP Roadmap to true 5G (IMT 2020) vs AT&T “standards-based 5G” in Austin, TX

Development of “IMT Vision for 2030 and beyond” from ITU-R WP 5D

Introduction:

No organization, standards or spec writing body have detailed anything real related to “6G.”  All the 6G claims from telecom equipment vendors and network operators are pure propaganda/hype. There is no consensus of what 6G will be, nor is there any effort to standardize “5G Advanced.”  Hence, there is no basis whatsoever to talk about standardized 5G Advanced or 6G anytime soon.

Yes, we know 3GPP is working on Release 18 which will have many new features and functions, but their Release 16 (frozen one year ago) is not complete– at least not for the URLLC 5G NR specification and performance testing.  Don’t talk about “5G Advanced” or “6G” if the key use case (URLLC) for 5G is not complete.  Nor is the implementation specified for “5G core” or 5G advanced functions, e.g. network slicing, as we’ve stated many, many times.

This article examines what’s real: the important ongoing work by ITU-R (the official standards body for cellular communications and frequencies) on the vision, goals and objectives for what may become 6G.  Or maybe not?

ITU-R WP 5D Efforts on IMT Vision for 2030 (which will include “6G”):

ITU-R Working Party 5D (WP 5D) has started to develop a draft new Recommendation on IMT Vision for 2030 and beyond at their March 2021 meeting. This Recommendation might be helpful to drive the industries and administrations to encourage further development of IMT for 2030 and beyond.

This Recommendation will define the framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2030 and beyond, including the role that IMT could play to better serve the needs of the future society, for both developed and developing countries.

For the development of this draft new Recommendation, WP 5D would like to invite the views of External Organizations on the IMT Vision for 2030 and beyond, including but not limited to, user and application trends, evolution of IMT, usage scenario, capabilities and framework and objectives.

Related documents: ITU Recommendations, Reports, Documents and Handbook:

Recommendation ITU-R M.1645 – Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT‑2000 and systems beyond IMT‑2000

Recommendation ITU-R M.2083 – IMT Vision – “Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2020 and beyond”

Recommendation ITU-R M.1457 – Detailed specifications of the terrestrial radio interfaces of International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000)

Recommendation ITU-R M.2012 – Detailed specifications of the terrestrial radio interfaces of International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced)

Recommendation ITU-R M.2150 – Detailed specifications of the terrestrial radio interfaces of International Mobile Telecommunications-2020 (IMT-2020)

Report ITU-R M.2243 – Assessment of the global mobile broadband deployments and forecasts for International Mobile Telecommunications

Report ITU-R M.2320 – Future technology trends of terrestrial IMT systems

Report ITU-R M.2370 – IMT Traffic estimates for the years 2020 to 2030

Report ITU-R M.2376 – Technical feasibility of IMT in bands above 6 GHz

Report ITU-R M.2134 – Requirements related to technical performance for IMT‑Advanced radio interface(s)

Report ITU-R M.2410 – Minimum requirements related to technical performance for IMT-2020 radio interface(s)

Report ITU-R M.2441 – Emerging usage of the terrestrial component of International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT)

Report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYOND] – Future technology trends of terrestrial IMT systems towards 2030 and beyond

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Key objectives of the vision towards IMT for 2030 and beyond:

  • Focus on continued need for increased coverage, increased capacity and extremally high user data rates;

  • Focus on continued need for lower latency and both high and low speed of movement of the mobile terminals;

  • Fully support the development of a Ubiquitous Intelligent Mobile Society;

  • Focus on tackling societal challenges identified in UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular to meet the needs of Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure;

  • Consider what the future heterogenous mobile broadband networks can offer to the society and the economy through the applications and services they support;

  • Target the changing global scenario on how we work and how we stay safe during the societal challenges such COVID-19 pandemic and global climate changes;

  • Focus on delivering on digital inclusion and connecting the rural and remote communities.

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The 4 key pillars for the vision:

  1. Any future technology should help in the development of a Ubiquitous Intelligent Mobile Connected Society (whatever that means is TBD).

  2. Any future technology should support technologies that can help bridge the digital divide.

  3. Any future technology should support technologies that can Personalize / localize services.

  4. Any future technology should support the connectivity / compute technologies that can address issues of real-world data ownership sensitivities.

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External Organizations will be invited to contribute to this work item via contributions to future ITU-R WP 5D meetings in 2021 and 2022.

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Source:  ITU-R WP 5D

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Addendum from Leo Lehmann, Chairman ITU-T SG13:

ITU-T had run Focus Group Network-2030, which was concluded in July 2020. This Focus Group studied the capabilities of networks for the year 2030 and beyond. Those networks are expected to support novel forward-looking scenarios, such as holographic type communications, extremely fast response in critical situations and high-precision communication demands of emerging market verticals.

It has produced a remarkable “White Paper: “Network 2030 – A Blueprint of Technology, Applications and Market Drivers Towards the Year 2030 and Beyond(May 2019).”

Even though studies are focusing only on “non-radio-related” aspects, the given use cases might be very important for the further discussion how they might be supported by corresponding spectrum requirements (whatever “G”).

References:

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/net2030/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/net2030/Documents/White_Paper.pdf

ITU-R WP 5D new reports on IMT for PPDR applications, Terrestrial IMT for Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything, 6G Vision & more

At its March 2021 virtual meeting, ITU-R WP5D completed a revision of the report ITU-R M.2291-1The use of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) for broadband Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) applications includes the IMT-2020 and 5G aspects in this public safety focused report to update the current report which was only based on IMT-Advanced 3GPP LTE technology. This revision was completed by ITU-R WP 5D and forwarded to Study Group 5 for action when they next meet in November 2021.

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ITU-R M.[IMT.C-V2X] – The use of the terrestrial component of IMT systems for Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything

WP 5D is also developing a draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT.C-V2X] – The use of the terrestrial component of IMT systems for Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything is intended to addresses the mutual relationship between IMT technologies and Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) as a specific application and elements of functions in IMT technologies that are used to realize C-V2X application.

Further, the report provides details on Overview on Usage of IMT technology, use cases, relationship between IMT and C-V2X, characteristics and capabilities supported by IMT, and case studies associated with C-V2X for the various scenarios including eMBB, mMTC, and URLLC of terrestrial component of IMT. 

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Development of draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYOND]

The draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYOND] is intended as a precursor to a “beyond IMT-2020” vision document for 6G that ITU-R WP 5D intends to produce in 2022. This trends report will assess where the technology is, and the current uses are for IMT-2020/5G and seek to identify the gaps and technical enablers anticipated to be necessary in the 2030 timeframe.

Furthermore, the expectation is that this Report will energize the academic and technology community to engage in the research and developments necessary to underpin a “beyond IMT-2020 and 6G view) as just focusing on new uses cases is insufficient to build such a future and the technology evolution requires a long lead time to fruition. 

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Development of draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT TERRESTRIAL BROADBAND REMOTE COVERAGE]

The draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT TERRESTRIAL BROADBAND REMOTE COVERAGE] – Terrestrial IMT for remote sparsely populated areas providing high data rate coverage is intended to provide details on scenarios associated with the provisioning of enhanced mobile broadband services to remote sparsely populated and underserved areas with a discussion on enhancements of user and network equipment.

It will distinguish between extending coverage on already deployed network and defining a use/case for deployment environment and is meant to meant to evaluate technical solutions required to extend the coverage of IMT system rather than discussing deployment layout for rural environments. The completion dates have been extended to the 39th WP 5D meeting (October 2021).

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Development of a draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT 2020.TDD.SYNCHRONIZATION]

The draft new report ITU-R [IMT2020.TDD.SYNCHRONIZATION] is intended to address the study of the aspects of synchronization operations of multiple IMT-2020 TDD networks in close proximity using the same frequency band, including analyses of coexistence issues when IMT operators utilize different synchronization modes, performance evaluation under different synchronization modes, and coexistence mitigation strategies.

The Report considers the further impacts of the introduction of technical advancement such as active antenna systems, etc. The completion dates were extended to the 41st WP 5D meeting (June 2022).

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Source: Chairman’s Report 37th e-meeting of Working Party 5D (1-12 March 2021 – Virtual), April 13, 2021

IMT 2020: Concept of Global Core Specification (GCS) and Transposing Organization(s)

SOURCE:  Process and the use of Global Core Specification (GCS), references and related certifications in conjunction with Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS]

Introduction:

When completed, Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] will contain the detailed specifications of the radio interfaces of IMT-2020. The structure and philosophy adopted for M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] for IMT2020 is based on those used in Recommendations ITU-R M.1457 for IMT-2000 and ITU-R M.2012 for IMT-Advanced, which have been successfully utilized for two decades through numerous revisions of Recommendations ITU-R M.1457 and ITU-R M.2012.

A key concept is the continued use of the Global Core Specification (GCS) provided by the GCS Proponent and references to standards of Transposing Organization(s) [1.] authorized by the GCS Proponent whereby the detailed standardization is undertaken within the Transposing Organization that operates in concert with the RIT/SRIT Proponent and/or GCS Proponent entities.

The relationship between the GCSs for IMT-2020 radio interface technologies and the corresponding transposed standards is such that the GCSs are the framework for their corresponding detailed transposed specifications. Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] may also include references to specific related standards of the Transposing Organizations. There may be one or more entities that exist within a GCS Proponent for a given GCS.

It is also permissible to not have a separate GCS for a particular radio interface technology, in which case all the detailed specifications of that particular radio interface technology (the Directly Incorporated Specification1) would be fully contained directly within the Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS].

This understanding of whether a GCS would or would not be utilized in the context of a particular radio interface technology within Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] is necessary so that the proper structure and content of the Recommendation is chosen to properly reflect the technology specifications.

Consequently, the RIT/SRIT Proponent is requested to indicate at an early stage to the ITU-R its preliminary intention to submit a Global Core Specification, in advance of the required formal certifications, which will be used to form the basis of information in the Recommendation ITU‑R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS].

The ITU-R (Working Party 5D) will review any GCS or DIS submission(s) and agree/approve or suggest changes in conjunction with the development and the ultimate approval by ITU-R of the final published version of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] and the established schedules.

ITU-R (WP 5D and/or the Radiocommunication Bureau) will maintain liaison with the relevant External Organizations (RIT/SRIT Proponents, GCS Proponents, and Transposing Organizations) on the required deliverables and also the relevant schedules and administrative matters associated with the various stages of the development of the Recommendation ITU‑R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] and its revisions over time.

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ITU-R WP 5D will review any GCS or DIS submission(s) and agree/approve or suggest changes in conjunction with the development and the ultimate approval by ITU-R of the final published version of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] and the established schedules.

ITU-R (WP 5D and/or the Radiocommunication Bureau) will maintain liaison with the relevant External Organizations (RIT/SRIT Proponents, GCS Proponents, and Transposing Organizations) on the required deliverables and also the relevant schedules and administrative matters associated with the various stages of the development of the Recommendation ITUR M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] and its revisions over time.

Respecting the integrity of the GCSs and ensuring that the transposed standards are consistent with the GCS:

To assure users of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] of the integrity of the GCS for a particular technology, and to ensure that the transposed standards are consistent with the common globally agreed vision of IMT-2020, completeness and traceability of the GCS and the transposed standards is a foremost obligation of the ITU-R.

As noted above, the IMT-2020 specifications could be developed around a “Global Core Specification” (GCS), which is related to externally developed materials incorporated by specific references for a specific technology. The submitted GCSs as accepted by WP 5D for inclusion in Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] will be placed on the relevant ITU website and indicated by hyperlinks in each relevant technology Section of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT2020.SPECS].

The GCS provided by the GCS Proponent would form the nucleus of Recommendation ITUR M.[IMT-2020.SPECS]. For each radio interface technology in Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT2020.SPECS] (whether presented as a single RIT or as one of the component RITs within an SRIT) there will be only one corresponding GCS. A GCS will have one or more GCS Proponents. Each component RIT within a SRIT may be separately addressed with regard to its GCS and the associated GCS Proponents.

Each GCS would correspond to separate sets of transposed standards/specifications from one or more individual standards development organizations or equivalent entities. For each separate set of transposed standards/specifications, there will be only one Transposing Organization.

The referenced standards of the authorized Transposing Organizations [1.] must be technically consistent with the corresponding GCS while allowing a limited amount of flexibility to accommodate, e.g. minimal regional differences. An example of a regional difference would be a regional adjustment for differing frequency bands. Adherence to this format and principle assures a common global standard for IMT-2020 as codified in Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT2020.SPECS] including the external materials incorporated by reference.

The receipt of information with regard to Recommendation ITUR M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] that is related to a business relationship of the ITU and the relevant external organizations complements and support activities such as the technical work under the purview of the relevant Study Group within the ITU. It must be noted that where this document addresses administrative matters it does not intend to usurp the Study Group or Working Party authority but merely seeks to provide additional critical information to the deliberations on Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] as to the individual or collective intent and/or actions of the RIT/SRIT Proponents, GCS Proponents, and/or Transposing Organizations that support a particular technology, a corresponding GCS, and the related transposed standards.

NOTE 1.  A Transposing Organization is an individual entity authorized by a GCS Proponent to transpose the relevant GCS into specific standards and to provide specific references and hyperlinks (Transposition References) for the purposes of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS].  A Transposing Organization:

1) must have been authorized by the relevant GCS Proponent to produce transposed standards for a particular technology, and
2) must have the relevant legal usage rights.

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It is noted that the entity or entities that make up a GCS Proponent may also be a Transposing Organization. It should also be noted that the term Transposing Organization is always indicated to be a single entity. It is also noted that, for the purposes of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS], the ITUR will only recognize as valid those Transposing Organizations that have been identified to the ITU-R by the GCS Proponent as authorized to transpose the GCS Proponent’s GCS.

Neither a GCS Proponent nor a Transposing Organization need to be a formal “Standards Development Organization” or “SDO.” For example, “SDO” here could represent an industry entity, organization, individual company, etc. that, if applicable, also qualifies appropriately under the auspices of Resolution ITU-R 9.

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References:

https://www.itu.int/md/R15-IMT.2020-C-0020/en

https://www.itu.int/pub/R-RES-R.9