Sunday, 11 September 2016

How much spectrum would 5G need?

The above picture is a summary of the spectrum that was agreed to be studied for IMT-2020 (5G). You can read more about that here. I have often seen discussions around how much spectrum would be needed by each operator in total. While its a complex question, we cannot be sure unless 5G is defined completely. There have been some discussions about the requirements which I am listing below. More informed readers please feel free to add your views as comments.

Real Wireless has done some demand analysis on how much spectrum is required for 5G. A report by them for European Commission is due to be published sometime soon. As can be seen in the slide above, one of the use cases is about multi gigabit motorway. If the operators deploy 5G the way they have deployed 4G then 56 GHz of spectrum would be required. If they move to a 100% shared approach where all operators act as MVNO and there is another entity that deploys all infrastcture, including spectrum then the spectrum requirement will go down to 14 GHz.

This is in addition to all the other spectrum for 2G, 3G & 4G that the operator already holds. I have embedded the presentation below and it can be downloaded from here:

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum (UKSPF) recently held a workshop on Frequency bands for 5G, the presentations for which are available to download on the link I provided.

Its going to be a huge challenge to estimate what applications will require how much amount of spectrum and what would be the priority as compared to other applications. mmMagic is one such group looking at spectrum requirements, use cases, new concepts, etc. They have estimated that around 3.1GHz would be required by each operator for 99% reliability. This seems more reasonable. It would be interesting to see how much would operators be willing to spend for such a quantity of spectrum.

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