Decisions looming in the race for the 6 GHz spectrum
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The stakes in the fight around the 6 GHz band are still as high as ever, with the lobbying getting louder and louder every day.
As we have noted, the arguments made by competing Wi-Fi and 5G proponents will be a major topic of discussion during this year’s global wireless infrastructure debates. Recently, for example, the GSM Association (GSMA, as in Global System for Mobile Communications), warned that regulators’ failure to allocate enough 6 MHz spectrum for licensed cellular networks would threaten the ongoing rollout of 5G.
The group, working with four of its most influential members – Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE – has suggested that the large mid-band frequency range, from 5,925 to 7,125 MHz, is vital for 5G. and âhas the potential to increase global GDP. of $ 2.2 trillion.
According to John Giusti, the GSMA’s senior regulator, âThere is a clear threat to this growth if sufficient 6 GHz spectrum is not available for 5G. Clarity and certainty are essential to foster massive and long-term investments in this critical infrastructure. “
Citing research by Coleago Consulting On mid-range 5G spectrum requirements, the GSMA suggests that an additional 1-2 GHz spectrum will be required to meet the required data rates of 100 Mbps (downlink) and 50 Mbps (uplink) , as defined by ITU-R, for city-wide capacity coverage until 2030.
Achieving this goal will be “difficult” without licensed 6 GHz spectrum for 5G, warns the group.
Further, the GSMA has urged global regulators to âmake 6,425-7,125 MHz available for licensed 5G; provide backhaul services [are] protected; and that, depending on the needs of each country, historical use and fiber footprint, the lower half of the 6 GHz range between 5,925 and 6,425 MHz could be opened on an exemption basis. license with technologically neutral roles. “
Unfortunately, this is an example of having locked the stable doors after the horses have already locked. Policymakers have largely decided which side to support and are very divided on how to resolve the 6 GHz dilemma.
For example, the United States Federal Communications Commission has set aside relevant spectrum for a mix of unlicensed technologies, thus providing a huge advantage to supporters of existing and future varieties of Wi-Fi. Indeed, some Wi-Fi devices Fi deploying a 6 GHz spectrum are commercially available.
Most Latin American countries have followed the example of the FCC.
Just to be the opposite, China has allocated the scarce resource to licensed 5G networks.
Unsurprisingly, Europe is split between the two extremes, with the upper 1200 MHz in the recommended GHz band for 5G, but a portion of 500 MHz available for Wi-Fi.
Africa and parts of the Middle East follow broadly similar approaches.
Of the world’s top 20 economies, half have now opened, or are planning to open, 6 GHz for at least partial unlicensed use. Besides the United States, the list includes Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.
The World Radiocommunication Conference supported by ITU, the world standardization organization supposed to deal with these issues, maintains its position that it will rule at the WRC-2023 Jamboree strictly for technical reasons. He made no decision at his last meeting.
Meanwhile, the GSMA is also hoping that the next WRC meeting will come up with some sort of resolution, but the FCC has given little reason to believe it will reverse its stance. Indeed, according to the site Light reading, Facebook, Apple, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Google recently met with FCC representatives to discuss potential mobile operations in the 6 GHz band.
In applauding the agency’s decision, the companies reportedly urged the regulator to approve several new U.S. activities in the 6 GHz band, including ultra-low-power operations that would allow deployments without using automatic frequency coordination technology (AFC ) customer links.
The petitioners also argued that Wi-Fi is “an economic powerhouse,” with unlicensed technology contributing nearly $ 1 trillion to the US economy in 2021 and $ 3.3 trillion globally. 6 GHz and 6 GHz Wi-Fi devices accounted for most of those totals, the companies said.
Stakeholders also estimate that the economic stimulus will rise to $ 1.58 trillion by 2025, and that unlicensed tapes will carry half of all U.S. internet traffic, a percentage that will grow each year.
Meanwhile, unlicensed spectrum is fast becoming the basis for future IoT networks. These waves would also help offload or transfer LTE to unlicensed spectrum, a development that would increase with 5G from 54% of traffic in 2017 to 59% by 2022.
May the best technology win.