There are few moments in one’s career where one can foresee transformative opportunities – the alignment of 5G regulations and standards creating a connected society is one.
What is needed is for Governments, Regulators, Investors, and Industry to align and work together for the greater good; collaborating to create our new connected world; our 5G future rests in their hands.
5G Bedrock – Spectrum
In many instances, inflexible regulations can take an extraordinary amount of time to amend. In that regard, one of the biggest concerns is whether there will be sufficient spectrum in low, mid and high bands available for 5G to deliver the key usage scenarios envisaged – “Enhanced Mobile Broadband”, “Massive Machine Type Communications”, and “Ultra-reliable and Low Latency Communications”. The complex interplay of latency, quality-of-service, and speed capabilities and new services is depicted below.
There isn’t a single solution; there isn’t a single frequency band that can deliver all 5G services and applications. There is, however, an opportunity to create the right circumstances which will allow Governments to enable access to new 5G frequency bands.
European Commission Leadership in 5G
With the release of the European Commission’s “5G for Europe: An Action Plan” (September 2016) Intel is pleased to see the EC demonstrating leadership in aligning Member States on a 5G vision placing Europe at the heart of 5G innovation and commercial possibilities.
We believe it is important the EC establish a common timetable for the launch of 5G networks by end 2018 and a fully commercial 5G services by end 2020.
Intel welcomes these aggressive time schedules for Member States to develop national plans and we are encouraged that 5G deployment roadmaps will be part of these national broadband plans. We are further pleased to see the EC imperative of at least one 5G enabled major city by end 2020 and all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths have uninterrupted 5G coverage by 2025.
It is critical that Member States enable a commercial and regulatory environment fostering emergence of digital ecosystems based on 5G connectivity, and an initial important element will be technological experiments in 2017 which will include testing of new terminals, applications and services demonstrating the benefit of 5G connectivity for important industrial sectors.
Spectrum, Spectrum, Spectrum
Given the importance of spectrum to 5G success, it is noteworthy that in July 2016 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules to enable rapid development and deployment of next generation 5G technologies and services. These new rules open up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for flexible, mobile and fixed use wireless broadband – 3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum (in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands) and 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum (in the 64-71 GHz band).
Intel supports an early focus on identifying possible frequency bands for 5G but notes it is important to take into consideration a variety of factors such as support for the 28 GHz band in some leading countries, radio tuning ranges, and other impacts on device availability.
With respect to the Radio Spectrum Policy Group statement regarding the importance of global harmonization, it is critical to understand the concept of “tuning ranges”. Simplistically, frequencies that are adjacent to one another can be leveraged for inclusion in a single product design even if they are not all available in a single geography. Finding frequency ranges which are available in major markets, or where the available frequency bands are close enough to be supported within a single radio, i.e. “widely harmonised over major markets” is critical to achieving the economies of scale necessary to support the business case for both manufacturers and operators. This type of harmonisation- widely harmonized over major markets – creates commonalities in regulatory requirements and technical specifications – reducing the cost and complexity of implementing and enabling 5G technologies.
As Europe aims to achieve leadership in 5G, it is of utmost importance to take into account and try to align with these early adopter developments in the 28 GHz band outside of Europe. This is particularly important as one of the candidates for an early European priority band (24.25-27.5 GHz) is directly adjacent to the 28 GHz band (and even overlaps by 1 GHz with the band that Korea considers for early 5G deployments (26.5-29.5 GHz)) which will enable a tuning-range for widely harmonised equipment. Another candidate band (31.8-33.4 GHz) is a smaller band, is not adjacent to the 28 GHz, and faces 800 MHz of passive service spectrum with stringent protection requirements in-between, thus significantly limiting tuning-range possibilities.
Creating an environment for investment and commercial rollout of 5G applications and services is imperative. Intel supports efforts to secure access to appropriate spectrum below and above 6 GHz to enable early commercial 5G deployments. We believe that the approval at the European level of “pioneer spectrum bands” and the identification of possible frequency bands for commercial 5G deployments is crucial.
European “Pioneer Spectrum Bands”
Given their importance to the initial launch of 5G services in Europe, an early decision by European Member States on “pioneer spectrum bands” would be desirable and we understand that this concept is gaining momentum within the EC. We strongly support the EC considering the 24.25-27.5 GHz band as the primary “pioneer spectrum band” for Europe early in 2017.
European Harmonised Spectrum for Commercial Deployments
Intel supports the EC and Member States, by end of 2017, identifying spectrum below and above 6 GHz to be harmonised for future deployment of commercial 5G networks in Europe. The 3.4-3.8 GHz band and 24.25-27.5 GHz bands (noting 27.5-29.5 GHz is not being considered by Europe at the moment) are particularly suitable.