Why C-Band spectrum is more suitable for 5G

Ericsson 5G for telecomsC-Band is emerging as the most common spectrum range identified for the commercial launch of 5G in 2019 and later.

The ABI Research report on the global 5G spectrum is based on the regulatory announcements recently by about 20 countries.

The report on spectrum said many of the lab and field 5G trials conducted by industry participants have focused on higher frequencies and not C-Band. Recent trails focused on radio spectrum frequencies from sub-1GHz to 100GHz including licensed, unlicensed, and shared spectrum to address 5G.

“In the long-term the whole breadth of the sub-1GHz to 100GHz spectrum range will be critical to address the various use cases and meet enhanced speeds, latency, reliability, and other 5G metrics in different usage scenarios. In the near-term, however, use millimeter wave for 5G services in 2019-2020 is limited due to technology challenges and global spectrum availability,” said Prayerna Raina, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Since current cellular communication takes place below 6GHz, the use of higher frequency ranges for mobile broadband is unfamiliar territory for mobile operators. Similarly, key 5G antenna and base station technologies such as MIMO are currently deployed in the sub-6GHz range on a low order of 4 to 16 antenna elements in most cases.

At higher mmWave frequencies, massive MIMO antennas are likely to feature hundreds of antenna elements, which bring its own set of challenges.

The use of higher frequencies such as 26GHz and 28GHz for fixed mobile broadband service on 5G networks is certain, but it is the C-Band with its global harmonization that is creating opportunities for large scale deployment.

5G service is expected to assist mobile operators who continue to battle stagnating mobile ARPUs, increasing network traffic, and the need to cost-effectively optimize network management and operations.

ABI Research said C-band, with the support of new technologies, including Uplink Decoupling, will likely be the dominant 5G spectrum band, since it allows operators to deploy 5G on an existing network grid, rather than spend significantly on new cell cites.