The importance of 6 GHz for 5G’s future

The importance of 6 GHz for 5G’s future

The full speed and capabilities of 5G depend on access to mid-band spectrum. To secure 5G performance in the long-term more capacity in this range is needed, and 6 GHz is a prime candidate.

However, despite the importance of 6 GHz for the future of 5G, governments are already diverging. China will use the entire 1200 MHz in the 6 GHz band for 5G.

Europe has split the band, with the upper part considered for 5G, but a new 500 MHz tranche available for Wi-Fi. Africa and parts of the Middle East are taking a similar approach.

At the other extreme, the US and much of Latin America have declared that none of this valuable resource will be made available for 5G, but rather will be offered to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies.

Research from Coleago Consulting on mid-band 5G spectrum needs in Europe shows that an additional 1 to 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum is required to meet the IMT-2020 user experienced data rates of 100 Mbit/s (downlink) and 50 Mbit/s (uplink), defined by the ITU-R, for citywide high-capacity coverage in the 2025-2030 timeframe.

Delivering on this goal will be challenging without licensed 6 GHz spectrum for 5G. Therefore, GSMA calls on governments all over the world to:

  • Make at least 6425-7125 MHz available for licensed 5G;
  • Ensure backhaul services are protected; and
  • Depending on countries’ needs, incumbent use and fibre footprint, the bottom half of the 6 GHz range at 5925-6425 MHz could be opened on a licence-exempt basis with technology neutral rules.

Importantly, the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023 will provide the opportunity to harmonise the 6 GHz band across large parts of the planet and help develop the ecosystem.


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