Operators across the globe are pinning their hopes on dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), but Vodafone is claiming the prize for being the first to demonstrate 5G DSS on a combination of two low spectrum bands.
The demo happened in Vodafone’s VIP lab in Düsseldorf, Germany, and involved Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm. DSS, which is part of the 3GPP Release 15, allows operators to dynamically allocate some of their existing 4G LTE spectrum to 5G.
Vodafone explained in a blog post that while DSS technology already has been demonstrated, the unique aspect of its test was the simultaneous use of these two low frequency bands—in this case, 700 MHz and 800 MHz—using a 5G non-standalone (NSA) device.
The 800 MHz spectrum was used as the “anchor band,” while 700 MHz was shared dynamically between 4G and 5G, which could allow operators to seamlessly allocate spectrum resources according to demands on the network. The Ericsson and Huawei gear ran alongside Qualcomm’s X55 mobile test platform.
“This is a world first in cellular radio,” Vodafone stated. The 2G, 3G and 4G standards initially were rolled out on dedicated blocks of spectrum, which meant that reallocating the spectrum for the next generation of technology was a tedious and expensive process. With DSS, operators can do this overnight with a simple software upgrade.
For consumers, DSS means better 5G coverage, with lower latency and faster download speeds, sooner rather than later. Vodafone said DSS on low bands also will be significant in enabling low latency applications and deeper in-building coverage.
Vodafone’s blog did not say when it will be introducing DSS on a commercial basis.
Broadly speaking, this is expected to be a big year for DSS. The attitude toward spectrum sharing is on the upswing, with both suppliers and operators discussing their spectrum sharing roadmaps, noted Dell’Oro Group analyst Stefan Pongratz.
Operators also see extended 5G NR coverage with lower band spectrum as a key enabler for 5G standalone (SA) and network slicing, he said, with the technology expected to play a pivotal role in upgrading existing low-band LTE sites to NR in 2020.