Through next-generation information and communication technologies, such as cloud computing, big data and AI, 5G opens new opportunities for economic growth by participating in the digital transformation of economy and society bringing about profound changes in production methods and lifestyles. Accelerating the deployment of 5G is therefore essential to stimulate the economic and social development of countries and thus strengthen their competitiveness. According to forecasts by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), 5G alone is expected to bring more than $960 billion to the global economy in 2030, including $610 billion from midband spectrum. Otherwise, many countries have integrated the deployment of 5G at the heart of their national strategies. Thus, in the first quarter of 2022, 220 operators, in more than 70 countries, have launched 5G. With 2.2 million 5G base stations deployed, global 5G connections will reach 1.2 billion by the end of the year. The development of 5G in the Middle East and North Africa region is also gaining momentum: 8 countries in the region have launched 5G services, resulting in nearly 15 million 5G connections. 2 billion at the end of the year. The development of 5G in the Middle East and North Africa region is also gaining momentum: 8 countries in the region have launched 5G services, resulting in nearly 15 million 5G connections. 2 billion at the end of the year. The development of 5G in the Middle East and North Africa region is also gaining momentum: 8 countries in the region have launched 5G services, resulting in nearly 15 million 5G connections.
Spectrum, an essential pillar to support the development of 5G
The availability of sufficient spectrum resources is essential for 5G to unleash its full potential and ensure its effective contribution to economic growth. However, with the rapid growth of 5G users and the constant emergence of new services such as XR, metaverse and FWA, the existing spectrum resources are unable to meet the growing demand for services. A shortage of adequate spectrum resources is not only likely to generate additional costs for consumers, but also to accentuate the related environmental pollution. According to a GSMA study of 36 major cities around the world, between 2025 and 2030, the mobile communications industry will need 2 GHz bandwidth in the mid bands, of which 3.5 GHz, 4.8 GHz and 6 GHz are the main candidate bands, to meet the 5G/IMT2020 baseline requirement of 100 Mbps DL and 50 Mbps UL. According to a study by Coleago Consulting, adequate midband spectrum resources can also reduce the carbon footprint of the network by two to three times, while promoting the sustainable development of mobile connectivity.
The 6 GHz band, an inevitable choice for the next decade in the Middle East and North Africa region.
M. _ Ross Bateson, Special Government Advisor to GSMA, told the 6th MENA Spectrum Management Conference Tunisia 2022: “ We are currently reviewing midband spectrum in this CMR. 5G in order to ensure affordable and quality service. Although there are many ways to solve this problem, it will be very difficult to achieve it without the higher band of 6 GHz. The transition from the 6 GHz band to technologies without license will impact the quality and price of 5G services by the end of the decade The 3.1-3.4 GHz band will not be available everywhere, nor will the 4.8-4.99 GHz band The 6GHz band is the ultimate opportunity in this regard .”
The 6GHz band is the only mid-frequency band that can provide a wide contiguous bandwidth of 700 MHz, to bridge the gap (6425-7125 MHz, the upper part of the 6GHz band). The 6425-7125 MHz band will be essential for the deployment of advanced 5G and 6G in the Middle East and North Africa region, the quality of service and its accessibility.
The IMT spectrum of 700 MHz of contiguous bandwidths, which is provided by the upper 6 GHz band, can greatly increase the capacity of the future 5G system in a cost-effective manner while ensuring quality of service. According to the latest simulation analysis, although the radio propagation characteristics of 6 GHz are weaker than those of 3.5 GHz from a purely physical point of view, the coverage capacity of 6 GHz would actually be similar to that of 3.5 GHz with even higher throughput using advanced massive MIMO technologies. Therefore, the 6 GHz frequency band has advantages in both coverage and capacity, making it an ideal mid-frequency for 5G and beyond.
Furthermore, according to the latest socio-economic research on 6 GHz from GSMA Intelligence , the allocation of 6425-7125 MHz to IMT will bring significant economic benefits to countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. compared to their attribution to unlicensed technologies.
ITU-R study dispels concerns over co-existing 6 GHz deployment
The IMT system can coexist well with incumbent services (such as fixed satellite service and fixed service) on the 6 GHz frequency band. During the ITU-R WP5D working group meeting, more than 10 positive proposals were received from countries like UAE, Kuwait, France, Japan, a number of African countries and China , coming from suppliers like Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and other mobile operators. All of these proposals indicate that IMT and UL SFS can co-exist. In addition, joint studies by Ericsson, a number of African countries and China indicate that IMT and FSS can coexist within a certain separation distance.
Further collaboration and support is needed to ensure the identification of IMT at 6 GHz at WRC-23.
Generally speaking, the 6 GHz band is a new frequency band with advantages in terms of coverage and capacity. It can fully release the basic capabilities of 5G and generate more socio-economic values. Over the past two years, global mobile operators and industry partners have gradually realized the value of 6 GHz and reached a preliminary consensus on the use of IMT:
- ITU-R has started the study on the use of upper 6 GHz IMT and plans to identify it at WRC-23.
- 3GPP has completed specification of the licensed upper 6 GHz band for 5G NR in Rel-17 and started WI for the full 6 GHz in Rel-18.
- The GSMA released a statement calling on governments to allocate 6GHz for 5G as well as set up a dedicated 6GHz task force.
- Industry partners, including associations, MNOs and vendors, unveiled a joint 6 GHz IMT statement at the 6th MENA Spectrum Management Conference Tunisia 2022. We believe that the more industry partners will pay attention to the 6 GHz, plus the 6 GHz IMT market will mature between 2024 and 2025 to be ready for large-scale commercial deployment.
The identification of upper 6 GHz IMT at WRC-23 will be central to the sustainable development of the global mobile industry, including in the Middle East and North Africa region in the decades to come. It will also be decisive for the economic growth of countries. We therefore call on all countries in the Middle East and North Africa region to actively consider the use of the 6425-7125 MHz band as licensed spectrum and to increase extensive collaborations with industry to promote the 6 GHz IMT industry.