At the 8th Global Mobile Broadband (MBB) Forum held on November 15th in London, Huawei releases a Position Paper on 5G Spectrum, which presents Huawei’s insights and recommendations on 5G spectrum policy. This paper aims to call upon the industry’s organisations and regulators to facilitate spectrum harmonisation and ensure timely availability for early deployment and large-scale commercial use of 5G.
5G is the next generation of MBB technology, capable of ultra-fast speeds, low latency and excellent reliability. The 5G New Radio (5G-NR) interface can provide superior MBB services for end users anytime and anywhere, while releasing the Internet of Things (IoT). This will enable a diverse range of innovative use cases, such as smart manufacturing, connected cars, smart logistics and wireless home broadband. 5G is poised to create a super connected world.
5G assumes the responsibility of promoting digital transformation throughout society and requires a wide range of spectrum resources. Huawei proposed a multi-layer spectrum approach in consideration of divergent requirements of 5G services and different characteristics of related frequency bands. The “Coverage and Capacity Layer” relies on the 2 to 6 GHz range (e.g. the C-band, 3.3-4.2 and 4.4-5.0 GHz) to deliver the best compromise between capacity and coverage.
This layer will emerge as the world’s first band for the much anticipated commercial deployment of 5G. The “Coverage Layer” exploits the spectrum below 2 GHz (e.g. 700 MHz) providing wide-area and deep indoor coverage. The “Super Data Layer” relies on the spectrum above 6 GHz (e.g. 24.25-29.5 and 37-43.5 GHz) to address specific use cases requiring extremely large capacity and high data rates.
The availability of spectrum resources in the 5G era needs administrations’ planning and allocation of contiguous spectrum. The C-band is the key primary frequency band for the introduction of 5G by 2020. Each operator will need at least 100 MHz contiguous channel bandwidth to support Massive MIMO to boost peak, average, and cell-edge throughput with affordable complexity. The 5G-NR system on the 3.3-3.8 GHz band is expected to be commercially ready by 2018. As the first step of 5G deployment, it is highly recommended that 3.3-3.8 GHz or a portion of it be allocated as soon as practicable.
High frequencies (above 6 GHz) will also play an important role for 5G. Huawei suggests that at least 800 MHz of contiguous spectrum can be allocated to each operator at the initial stages to meet 5G requirements for ultra-high capacity of wireless home broadband (WTTx) and for high mobility especially in hotspot areas.
5G-NR will embrace many new features and technical innovations including LTE/NR uplink spectrum sharing, Massive MIMO, network synchronisation (inter-operator), duplex flexibility, and others. These innovative features and technologies provide an opportunity for regulators to adjust regulations for more efficient and flexible spectrum utilisation.
LTE/NR uplink spectrum sharing lifts the restriction on a single band for both uplink and downlink. For example, the 5G-NR uplink at 3.5 GHz can exploit spectrum resources at 1.8 GHz that have been used for LTE. This scheme allows improved network coverage and spectral efficiency. Regulatory frameworks need to embrace the principle of technology and service neutrality for the most efficient spectrum allocation and sharing.
Regulatory masks should be revised to support the proliferation of Massive MIMO antenna systems. The incentives for network synchronisation in 5G networks are necessary for efficient deployment of 5G-NR networks in unpaired assignments. Meanwhile, provisions to support duplex flexibility should also be considered as the next step to allow for a more flexible use of the spectrum resources.
More than improving performance from previous generations of mobile technologies, one of the core targets of 5G is to provide wireless connectivity to vertical industries. The success of 5G will therefore depend on positive collaboration between the telecom industry and a broad range of potential industrial users of 5G networks, reaching beyond the telecom sector. A globally harmonised spectrum enables economies of scale, facilitating cross-border coordination and roaming for end users. Consistent spectrum timelines and harmonisation measures are key enablers for the success of 5G.
For more details, please view Huawei’s Position Paper on 5G Spectrum via the link.