The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) today released a major study into the global regulation and commercialisation of C-band (3300-4200 MHz) spectrum for 5G services, including a set of recommendations and a call to action to spectrum regulators to exploit its full potential. This report follows on from earlier data released by GSA in January that identified 23 countries that have auctioned or allocated C-Band spectrum for mobile broadband. The 3300–4200 MHz frequency band offers a unique opportunity for ‘mid-band’ spectrum availability. The amount of spectrum that can be made available in this frequency range will be exploited by the 5G New Radio (5G-NR) air interface to deliver increased capacity and a better experience to end users.
The 3300–4200 MHz range offers an optimal balance between coverage and capacity, which will support a broad range of 5G applications, including: eMBB (including AR/VR and UHD), fixed wireless access, as well as many applications that will drive the digital transformation (including Industry 4.0, health care, smart cities and drones applications). 5G-NR network equipment, smartphones, customer premises equipment and other types of end- user equipment are now available in various markets, adding support for 3GPP bands n77 (3300–4200 MHz) and n78 (3300–3800 MHz) on top of the already available bands.
The full report is available to GSA Members and Associates, with an Executive Summary of the key recommendations available for free download here: https://gsacom.com/paper/c-band-for-5g/
“The commercial availability of devices has arrived at an unprecedented speed – only one year after the availability of the first 3GPP 5G-NR standard release – and over one third of them support for the n77 and n78 bands. Compare this to LTE, which took at least three years to hit similar commercial maturity,” commented Joe Barrett, President, GSA. “However, if governments and regulators are to realise take advantage of this momentum reap the societal benefits of increased coverage and capacity of mobile broadband then mid-band spectrum has a vital role to play. National administrations seeking to secure the many and varied benefits of 5G for their policies must also provide wide and contiguous channel assignments to operators while simultaneously considering investment-friendly provisions and connectivity requirements of industry verticals.”
GSA recommendations to national spectrum policy and regulatory authorities include:
• Spectrum availability – ads National administrations should make appropriate amounts of contiguous spectrum available to mobile operators in a timely manner to facilitate the cost- effective deployment of 5G networks. The spectrum must be made available across low-, medium- and high-band frequency ranges, to address both coverage and capacity issues.
• Spectrum sharing vs. spectrum clearing – GSA advocates clearing the bands to be used by 5G, to enable maximum efficiency and coverage of 5G deployments. Possibilities of sharing between 5G and other services should be taken into consideration if clearing the band is not possible in the shorter term.
• Wide and contiguous channel assignments – GSA suggests that the largest possible contiguous frequency blocks be made available for IMT within the 3300–4200 MHz range at the national level. This is because the assignment of contiguous blocks to mobile operators will lead to significant benefits in terms of spectrum efficiency, signalling overhead, physical layer flexibility, latency performance, base station radio unit implementation and UE implementation.
• Spectrum caps should be avoided in competitive market – An administration’s approach to spectrum caps should be based on the level of market competition desired. Spectrum caps should not be imposed in markets with a healthy level of competition.
• Addressing industry verticals connectivity requirements – Adequate spectrum with appropriate regulatory conditions should be made available to enable integration of industry verticals in 5G, both through public mobile networks and through locally operated private networks.
• National synchronisation frameworks – To avoid interference between adjacent spectrum owners, GSA recommends synchronising operations between operators (adopting a common clock reference and a common frame structure) within one country and, as much as possible, between countries.
• Smooth cross-border coordination – GSA strongly recommends that administrations arrange effective cross- border coordination agreements between and among neighbouring countries aimed at cross-country synchronised operations as much as possible.
• Investment-friendly provisions – National administrations should not sacrifice the long-term potential of the technology for short-term revenue gain from the assignment procedures. The administrations should advise local and state authorities in the country to facilitate the installation of network equipment (macro cells and small cells) with agile procedures.
In January 2020, GSA also launched its new 5G Spectrum Auction Tracker, containing data on the first 23 countries to auction or allocate C-Band spectrum for 5G including Australia, Austria, Czechia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, and the UK. A snapshot of the data is available for download here: https://gsacom.com/paper/c-band-spectrum-auctions-january-2020/
The GSA 5G Spectrum Auction Tracker is a new information database from GSA and is available to all GSA members. Coming in Q1 2020, it will be integrated into the GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices (GAMBoD) database, which is a unique search and analysis tool that has been developed by GSA to enable searches of LTE and 5G devices and new global data on Mobile Broadband Networks, Technologies and Spectrum (NTS). The new 5G Spectrum Auction Tracker database contains details about spectrum auction and allocation trends, including data about the prices of spectrum sold at auction or allocated to operators through administrative proceedings.
GAMBoD is a resource dedicated to promoting the success and growth of the Mobile Broadband (MBB) industry and ecosystem and is fully available to all employees of GSA Executive and Ordinary Member companies and GSA Associates who subscribe to the service.