Spectrum for 5G likely to be harmonised on regional, not global scale: panel

spectrum

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany — Participants in a panel at the NGMN Industry Conference and Exhibition, here, this week indicated that finding a harmonised spectrum band to support 5G services at global level may be a goal that is hard to achieve, suggesting that regional harmonisation is more attainable.

According to Takehiro Nakamura, VP and general director at NTT Docomo, the issue is being discussed aggressively in Japan. However, he said talks at the recent World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015 (WRC-15) showed that it would be very difficult to have global harmonisation.

“Partial harmonisation should be accepted I think,” Nakamura said.

Nakamura added that Japan has proposed the bands 3.5 GHz, 4.5 GHz and 28 GHz as potential candidates for 5G in 2020, but noted that 3.5 GHz is already used for 4G in Japan.

“4.5 GHz is good for Japan but not for elsewhere,” he added. “Global harmonisation is ideal but it could become regional due to the challenges.”

Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, also acknowledged that it is a challenge for industry to achieve harmonisation. The U.S. has been considering the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands, for example.

Alain Maloberti, SVP at Orange Labs Networks, stressed how important spectrum is as the “fuel” of the mobile industry, but noted that there are a range of requirements for 5G: “No one size fits all,” he said.

He said that the sub-6 GHz bands are still crucial to enable the first stages of 5G, to ensure good coverage at a lower cost. He pointed out that the 700 MHz band could serve as the basis for this in the same way that 800 MHz spectrum has been used for 4G coverage. Other bands such as the 3.4-3.6 GHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz are also under consideration in Europe.

“All those bands have the potential to host 5G,” Maloberti said.

At the next WRC in 2019, discussions are set to focus on frequency bands from 24 GHz to 86 GHz. However, Maloberti said that there is also potential for the bands from 6 GHz to 24 GHz. “This is not currently being addressed by WRC-19, but it could be used for eMBB,” he said.

Docomo’s Nakamura also suggested that 2019 is too late for Japan, which wants to make progress with 5G ahead of the Olympic Games in 2020.

“We cannot wait for WRC-2019,” he said.

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