WRC-19 delivering spectrum to power 5G future

Yi Shen Chan, Director, Plum Consulting moderated a session on WRC-19 — delivering the spectrum to power 5G future.

Bharat Bhatia, president, ITU-APT Foundation of India remarked that WRC 2019 was attended by 3,540 delegates from 165 countries in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. 5G spectrum was the key agenda of WRC-19. Over 22 agenda items and 11 issues were discussed. WRC-19 identified the following bands for IMT.

* 24.25-27.5 GHz (26GHz)
* 37-43.5GHz (40 GHz)
* 45.5-47GHz and 47.2-48.2 (50GHz)
* 66-71 GHz for IMT (70GHz).

The main issue for 5G spectrum in 26GHz at WRC-19 was the protection of the earth exploration satellites (EESS) in adjacent band (in 23.6-24GHz) and fixed satellite in 24.5-27GHz. The limits proposed by India were the most reasonable and quite adjacent to what was finally approved. WRC also agreed for very light conditions to protect fixed satellites (FSS) in 24.5-27GHz.

The WRC-19 also decided only on mm wave bands (above 6GHz). 5G will require access to multiple bands of spectrum. The C-band and the Group 30/40a are the first global 5G bands. WRC-19 decisions were also made on the high-altitude platform stations (HAPS) and GSO. WRC-23 will look at mid-band spectrum for 5G, as well as a new mm wave band for 5G.

Price and quantum key for India
Rajan Mathews, DG, COAI, said that we now have an ability from the government side to be involved in the technical side. When we look at 5G, we are looking at the outcomes of the spectrum auction. There are two issues of mobility in 5G — price and quantum. With just 175 MHz of spectrum for 3-4 operators, 5G is a non-starter, after Defence and Satellite sectors took their share, said Rajan S. Mathews, DG, COAI. Besides pricing, we now have a quantum issue to deal with.

The Philippines is giving away spectrum for free to its operators. Can India learn from this? Who is going to put up their hands regarding the utilization of the spectrum? These are the matters that need to be resolved.

Satellite industry achieved a lot
Rajesh Mehrotra, Global Spectrum Policy, of the EMEA Satellite Operator’s Association (ESOA), added that looking at the satellite industry’s considerations, 5G is not just the next G. It is an amalgamation of a number of satellites. Satellite industry has achieved a lot at WRC-19. There are outcomes in C-, Ku-, Ka, Q-V bands, etc.

The Ka band is now available for the GSO ESIMs (earth stations in motion). A new agenda item will consider the future use of Ka band by the NGSO ESIMs. HAPS did not enter the 28GHz band. 5G is a network of networks that pools the strengths of other networks. We would like to make mobile a path to also use our network.

MPS Alawa, Senior Deputy Wireless Advisor to GoI, DoT, said that the new band will take advantage of MIMO. In WRC-19, there were the additional bands for IMT-2000. WRC-19 has given the protection to the satellite. However, it has not given the angle of satellite to the earth so far. On identified bands, it has two ~ 33BS/~29 UE (dBW/200MHz) and ~ 39BS/~35 UE (dBW/200MHz). A third band was also identified.

HAPS can be used to serve communities, remote and rural areas, disaster management, as an additional platform for broadband, and HAPS as IMT BS (HBS). WRC-19 also had the outcome for the non-GSO system. WRC-23 agenda items are about the sharing and compatibility studies.

Issues with 5G licensing
On the topic of issues with 5G licensing, Bharat Bhatia said that countries are looking at different licensing approaches. For mm wave bands, you need smaller coverage areas. Smaller-sized licence areas may be easier to implement.

Rajan Mathews noted that India has to address the licensing conditions concerning 5G. We are on the LSA basis. The emerging Licensed Shared Access (LSA) regulatory framework enables flexible spectrum sharing between a limited number of users that access the same frequency bands, while guaranteeing better interference mitigation. How 5G will be implemented in India is going to be critical? The configurations in standalone and non-standalone cores (SA and NSA) are also going to be important.

MPS Alawa added that there is an angle for positioning the satellite over India, that has to be notified by WPC. Right now, technical things are not in the reckoning.

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