The success of 5G for each cellular and stuck wi-fi entry might be constructed on deployment in extensive contiguous blocks of spectrum. 5G extends {the catalogue} of relevant frequency bands in comparison with earlier mobile community generations, bringing collectively new spectrum and the re-use of current cellular bands to assist a variety of purposes, industries and geographical places.

However what are these bands, and what position to they play in delivering a whole 5G expertise?

In its newest 5G Spectrum Snapshot revealed in September 2020, GSA recorded 207 operators with licences issued for 5G bands worldwide, between them they maintain greater than 310 licences to make use of 5G spectrum bands. This clearly reveals that operators are taking a look at a number of bands relating to deploying new 5G providers.

Entry to spectrum

Entry to a broad vary of spectrum assets is among the most important progress drivers for the deployment of cellular broadband, the Web of Issues (IoT), and stuck wi-fi entry (FWA) providers; conversely restricted spectrum availability is usually a restrictive issue for the growth of providers into new markets and industries. Completely different 5G spectrum frequency bands additionally supply a spread of attributes by way of protection and capability.

Telecom regulators world wide are recognising {that a} broad vary of low- to mid- to high-band spectrum must be made out there for cellular providers. Even with delays attributable to the disruption because of the Covid-19 pandemic, GSA research suggests there are nonetheless over 30 auctions/assignments attainable earlier than the top of 2020, together with 20 anticipated to assign components of the C-Band spectrum within the vary 3.3 – 4.2 GHz and 18 planning to assign spectrum at 700 MHz.

With entry to all three spectrum ranges vital to enabling out of doors and indoor protection must be totally met, the cellular ecosystem of regulators, operators and distributors are working arduous to ship the whole set of mass-market 5G providers by way of a sustainable enterprise mannequin that delivers one of the best socio-economic worth.


5G millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum presents giant quantities of bandwidth to assist far larger capability, sooner downloads and extra subscribers. It’s ideally appropriate for prime information throughput purposes resembling video communication, high-quality video streaming and purposes resembling digital and augmented actuality. This high-band spectrum can also be suited to native space hot-spot protection and helps in-building the place information utilization is highest and the best throughput is required. 

At WRC-19, world spectrum regulators recognized a number of mmWave frequency bands for 5G IMT, with round 17 GHz of spectrum for 5G within the 26, 40, 45, 47 and 66 GHz ranges recognized for IMT, globally or regionally. This choice, which GSA welcomed, paved the way in which for governments and regulators world wide to make frequency bands out there for ultra-fast 5G providers in hotspots and residential broadband environments by counting on a worldwide ecosystem.

As mmWave spectrum turns into out there, so operators are exhibiting vital curiosity, with 127 operators recognized by GSA as investing in 5G utilizing spectrum between 24250 MHz and 29500 MHz, and bands n257, n258, n261 being a selected focus of funding. The momentum on this space is equally being mirrored in rising system exercise; by finish of August 2020 GSA had recognized 32 units (industrial and pre-commercial) with introduced assist for Band 257, n258 or n261; 17 of which had been telephones, and eight had been CPE units.


5G mid-band spectrum was agreed as a part of the ITU WRC-19 course of and included settlement on making out there the 3300–4200 MHz frequency vary. Also known as C-band spectrum for 5G, this mid-band spectrum vary presents an optimum stability between protection and capability.

Medium Frequencies, working above 2 GHz, present one of the best compromise between capability and protection, assembly a big portion of the 5G/IMT-2020 necessities. The 5G mid-band spectrum vary has the extra benefit of providing the most important contiguous bandwidth out there for IMT beneath 6 GHz.

As of finish August 2020, GSA’s NTS database confirmed C-band spectrum has been a key early focus of funding by operators. 178 operators had been investing on this mid-band spectrum (3300-4200 MHz), with 82 of these identified to be actively deploying networks utilizing Band n77 or Band n78.

C-band spectrum is already well supported with devices; whereas solely 36 of the commercially out there units (18.9% of them) are understood to assist providers working in mmWave spectrum, 88.9% of the commercially out there units are identified to assist sub-6 GHz spectrum. By August GSA had catalogued 178 introduced 5G units positioned as supporting Band n78 or Band n77. The bulk (117) of these had been telephones, adopted by non-industrial CPE at 27 units, with modules making up the subsequent largest class at 23 introduced units.


Low-band spectrum is vital for increasing 5G NR protection in all city/suburban/rural deployment situations, making certain service continuity throughout completely different geographies, enhancing service high quality in indoor environments, and serving to to shut the digital divide.

Decrease Frequencies guarantee extensive space protection and essentially complement increased frequencies making certain constant extensive space providers, together with deep in-building protection. 5G providers also can theoretically be deployed throughout lots of the identical sub-2 GHz spectrum ranges as LTE. 

As of Might 2020, GSA had identified 40 countries/territories that had introduced formal (date-specified) plans for allocating 5G-suitable frequencies beneath 1 GHz earlier than the top of 2022, together with technology-neutral licences or licences for cellular broadband providers. Of those, 35 of these are planning to public sale/allocate spectrum at 700 MHz.

As 2G or 3G networks are decommissioned and nations/territories award new tranches of spectrum within the low band vary extra operators will deploy 5G at these frequencies to profit from the protection benefits this band presents.

Trying ahead to the 5G future at WRC-23

At WRC-19, trying ahead to the WRC-23 convention, nationwide administrations agreed to review extra spectrum alternatives within the mid-band frequencies between 3.3 and 10.5 GHz, in addition to spectrum beneath 1 GHz. The purpose being to assist allow 5G providers to be extra extensively deployed geographically, together with rural areas, in addition to meet the anticipated elevated site visitors wants of inhabitants centres within the latter half of this decade.

GSA performs an lively position all through the four-year cycle of the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Convention. The outcomes of which pave the way in which for governments and regulators world wide to harmonise frequency bands for ultra-fast IMT/5G providers, supporting an expanded world ecosystem and wholesome market competitors.

At the moment, the GSA Spectrum Group, of over 135 specialists from GSA Member firms, is endeavor business technical and advocacy work as a part of the preparations for WRC-23, the place entry to extra spectrum is a key matter to assist future market progress. GSA is continuous to work with nationwide regulators and directors to harmonise world spectrum throughout low, mid- and high-band frequencies to make sure cellular providers can meet the increasing providers each business and shoppers expect within the coming years.

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