The 8th Asia-Pacific Spectrum Management Conference is held in Bangkok from 26 to 27 April2022. It is jointly hosted by Forum Global and Thailand NBTC, supported by ITUand APT. Global 84 countries with more than 630 participants join theconference on site and in virtual. Speakers include regulators from Cambodia,China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, leading operators suchas China Mobile and Axiata, leading telecom vendors like Huawei, and internationalindustrial organizations such as GSMA. Dr. MarioManiewicz, Director of Radiocommunications Bureau ITU and MasanoriKondo, Secretary General of APT give the opening ceremony.
Focus on the potential evolution of the 6GHz band for IMT in the APAC region
The spectrum is the fundamental resources of mobile communicationindustries development and the core element for 5G and 5G Advanced. A harmonizedplanning in term of spectrum roadmap and standards must be well-defined.
“Current data consuming in Cambodia, which is now 33 GB per user permonth. This is far beyond the ITU forecast of global average, which is 12 GB in2022. Data consuming in Cambodia is among the highest in APT region, and willgrow fast continuously. To address the challenges of long-term growth in dataconsumption and spectrum demands, 6 GHz is one of the best candidate mid bandfor us”. Chenda Thong, the Chairman of TRC Cambodia states in his key notespeech.
“If we take a global look to see others’ opinion on 6GHz, we foundthat some countries in our region, for example, China and Japan supported 6GHz orpartial of them for IMT. Other regions, such as ATU in Africa and RCC, hasformed positive view on 6GHz IMT. It is optimistic about 6GHz band to beidentified as IMT spectrum as organizations and countries drive this processregionally and globally,” Chenda Thong, added.
In order to accomplish the Digital Cambodia, 5G full-servicedevelopment is one of the key factor. Apart from 3.5GHz, Cambodia is considering6GHz as another important band for IMT under ITU-R study. Hence, Chenda suggeststhe APAC countries to consider reserving upper 6GHz band for IMT before WRC-23,in order to achieve spectrum and ecosystem harmonization. “And we’re happy to see that 3GPP as globalindustrial organization already starts the standards for 6GHz IMT”.
Sanea Saiwong, Principle Engineering Expert of the NBTC Thailand announced5G has been commercially rolled out on 2.6GHz and 700MHz, in trial on 3.5GHz/28GHz,and in studies on 6GHz under WRC-23. In the future, the NBTC claimed that total2051MHz bandwidth of mid- and low-band will be demanded to provide at least 100Mbps 5G download speed, out of current 30Mbps average in 4G.
And According to NBTC’s network obligation, licensees shall expand2600MHz networks that cover 50% of Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in 1 yearand smart cities in 4 years shared by NBTC. While AWN with 95.7% and TUC with94.5% have completed telecom network rollout in the EEC since March 2021. Andnational 5G population coverage achieves 77% with total 17,244 of 2600MHz basestations by April 2022.
China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)delegate stated mid-band is chosen as the primary band for 5G globally. The6GHz will be the key frequency band for future 5G in term of combinedadvantages of capacity, coverage and cost, especially beneficial for developingcountries. At the same time, 6GHz band will no longer be used for fixedservices like microwave in China.
China Mobile shares 6G requires more comprehensive performance &capability than 5G is necessary to expand new use cases and business towards2030. Hence, larger bandwidth & full spectrum access with more efficientuse of multi-bands will be required from 5G towards the road of 6G, includingsub6GHz, 6GHz, mmWave, THz, etc. Legacy 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz and 4.9GHz spectrum canprovide the best alternative mid band for mobile broadband with globalharmonized and mature ecosystem.
With the increasing of mobile usage in Finland and 5G networkexpansion in 3.6GHz, Traficom as regulator mentioned, “the amount of mid-bandfrequency may not be sufficient in the long run for 5G or introduction of 6G,additional mid-band frequency is required which the possibility of 6GHz usagein IMT system under WRC-23.” Therefore, Traficom supports IMT identification inupper 6GHz.
According to GSMA, by 2025-2030 timeframe, the countries require 2GHz of mid-band spectrum to meet the IMT user experienced of 100 Mbps downlinkand 50 Mbps uplink to reach the vision of 5G services, and therefore, 6GHz is aprime candidate. The 3GPP RAN Plenary has rolled out the standardization workof upper 6GHz (6425-7125 MHz) band as a new IMT frequency band, and completionis expected in 2022. Lastly, GSMA called on regulator “to consider at leastupper 6 GHz for IMT licensed use, while lower 6GHz should be consider as technologyneutral basis.”
Du Yeqing, Huawei Vice President of 5G Product Line, also highlights2000MHz of mid band spectrum per country is required in the following 5 to 10years, to support the need of higher speed user experience with affordableservices in 5G full scenario. The 2.1/2.3/2.6/4.9 GHz bands have matureecosystem, support 5G primary development, the same as C band. Industrypartners are working together to ripen the 6 GHz ecosystem to meet thelong-term needs of 5G.
Present “balancing priorities - Delivering a spectrum strategy” to meet the varied connectivity requirements of the APAC region
Indonesia expected to release 700MHz in low band for 5G by the endof 2022. Mid band 3.5GHz is also underrefarming and reassignment process for 5G, and planned to release by 2023. The6GHz and 4.9GHz for IMT 5G will be decided after WRC-23.
The APT 700MHz is becoming a primary band for 4G and 5G with maturedecosystem support. Axiata urges APAC regulators to release 700MHz as IMT andharmonise this spectrum as soon as possible including in Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh,Sri Lanka, and Nepal as well.
Celcom Malaysia delegate shares accelerating mobile backhaul upgrades,with sufficiency microwave spectrum including E-band and technology innovationssuch as band aggregation. It promotes to scale alongside RAN evolution from 4Gto 5G to meet increasing data experience expectations.
Renato Lombardi, Chairman of ETSI ISG mWT, says that E-band is vitalin APAC as the perfect solution for the very high percentage of short linkswithin range of E-Band stand alone or Dual Band, favourable licensingconditions are mandatory to make it widely adopted in the region.
Finally, Dr. Atsuko Okuda, Regional Director of ITU Asia and thePacific gives closing remarks. Global harmonized spectrum is the key to wirelessservices which enables technologies and services to improve access,affordability and security as well as to secure the required investment. The high level of participation made the sessionlively with interesting inquiries on agenda items of WRC-23, C band relateddiscussion for finding the right balance in key mid band frequencies andgrowing interest of region in 6GHz band. The discussion during this event wouldhelp the participants to get involved in preparatory meetings for WRC-23 in amore informed way with an eye on digital connectivity for 5G and beyond.