5G Spectrum: Opportunities of mmWaves

By Dr. Jyrki Penttinen, Technology Manager, GSMA North America

5G will rely on many of the existing radio frequencies, and it will also bring along completely new bands. The updated set of such a variety of options will help operators offer more capacity and data speeds for their customers.

The forthcoming World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) of ITU (International Telecommunication Union) will provide even more bands with the special focus on the millimetre Wave spectrum, in the range of 24.25-86 GHz. The new bands open interesting new opportunities for the stakeholders and will benefit us users. In fact, the mmWaves are an essential component for making the evolved mobile broadband (eMBB) happen with up to 20 Gb/s data rates as envisioned in the ITU IMT-2020 requirements.

Not only the mmWaves as such but the new 5G bands throughout the radio spectrum are important because each have their special benefits in the new era. At the same time, it is important to ensure the ecosystem is capable of offering state-of-the-art experiences regionally and globally. As stated in GSMA Public Policy Position document, the success of 5G is dependent on harmonised mobile spectrum across three categories of frequency bands, which are: sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz. The lowest frequencies provide largest coverage areas while they are limited for the capacity. They are especially good option for large cellular-based Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) applications. The highest bands and their available bandwidth can provide highest bit rates while the drawback is their limited coverage area which means the operators can take their full advantage within densest city centers. Meanwhile, the mid-bands offer a good balance of high performance and decent coverage which can be a good strategy to expedite 5G deployments.

Millimetre wave spectrum has the potential to transform the mobile broadband experience with ultra-high speeds and low latencies in those areas they can be applied. The forthcoming WRC-19 plays a crucial role in making 5G happen as it dictates the extent of mobile’s access to this spectrum and the ability of mobile operators to deliver on the high performance of 5G.

More information on MWC and the role of GSMA related to frequency matters can be found here.  GSMA has also produced a migration guideline which can be found here.

Dr. Jyrki Penttinen has worked in mobile telecommunications in Finland, Spain, Mexico, and the USA. At present, he assists operator members with the adoption, design, development, and deployment of GSMA specifications and programs. Dr. Penttinen has also authored 5G and other telecommunication books. You can find more of his articles on LinkedIn.