The capabilities of next generation of wireless networks will make possible massive new levels of connectivity, tremendous throughput speed and high reliability mobile communications. These capabilities will be met through the development of new air interfaces, new networking technologies as well as the evolution and enhancement of today’s technology. 5G is thus more than a gradual evolution of current mobile broadband: it is a trigger for deep social, business, and industrial transformation that will impact numerous vertical markets: automotive, energy, agriculture, city management, government, healthcare, manufacturing, public transportation, etc.
Technology developments to meet these capabilities will be deployed in the existing frequency bands identified for mobile communications but they will also require new spectrum resources to specifically provide high bandwidth resources that can efficiently deliver high throughput services.
The ITU-R considers the spectrum for public wireless networks (3G, 4G and now 5G) under the IMT framework. At the ITU-R World Radiocommunications Conference 2015 an Agenda Item for WRC-19 (AI 1.13) for studying 5G spectrum was agreed. A number of frequency bands between 24.25 GHz and 86 GHz will be studied until WRC19, where a decision on allocations for the Mobile Service and/or Identificationsfor IMT will be taken. In the study period between WRC-15 and WRC-19 the new spectrum needs for IMT will be analysed, as well as compatibility with other services.
In parallel, there are local initiatives to specify new frequency bands for commercial use or test systems, such as the recent Rulemaking in the US and the activities towards the Olympic Games in Korea and Japan. These initiatives are addressing higher frequency bands that will satisfy the very high throughput capabilities of 5G networks, but also bands below 6 GHz that could provide a combination of high bitrates and good coverage. Some of the bands under consideration are not on the ITU-R list for WRC-19. In addition, there are test systems planned or already up and running in a number of locations and for various frequency bands in different countries.
These different activities need to be taken into consideration already now in the development of a strategic roadmap for 5G spectrum in Europe, in order to achieve maximum possible harmonization and for Europe to influence and keep pace with international developments.