Delegates at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) have identified additional radio-frequency bands for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), which will facilitate the development of fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks.
5G is expected to connect people, things, data, applications, transport systems and cities in smart, networked communication environments. It will transport a huge amount of data much faster, reliably connect an extremely large number of devices and process very high volumes of data with minimal delay.
5G technologies are expected to support applications such as smart homes and buildings, smart cities, 3D video, work and play in the cloud, remote medical services, virtual and augmented reality, and massive machine-to-machine communications for industry automation. 3G and 4G networks currently face challenges in supporting these services.
These new functionalities and new services necessitate a new way of deploying advanced mobile services, as well as new approaches in making 5G technologies work together in industrial settings by machine-to-machine communications, Internet of Things (IoT) or with connected vehicles. ITU is on the front line of developing standards to allow all of these functionalities to work together.
New Resolutions approved at WRC-19 pointed out that ultra-low latency and very high bit-rate applications of IMT will require larger contiguous blocks of spectrum than those available in frequency bands that had previously been identified for use by administrations wishing to implement IMT. They also pointed that harmonized worldwide bands for IMT are desirable in order to facilitate global roaming and the benefits of economies of scale
While identifying the frequency bands 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, 45.5-47 GHz, 47.2-48.2 and 66-71 GHz for the deployment of 5G networks, WRC-19 also took measures to ensure an appropriate protection of the Earth Exploration Satellite Services, including meteorological and other passive services in adjacent bands.
In total, 17.25 GHz of spectrum has been identified for IMT by the Conference, in comparison with 1.9 GHz of bandwidth available before WRC-19. Out of this number, 14.75 GHz of spectrum has been harmonized worldwide, reaching 85% of global harmonization.
In addition, WRC-19 has also defined a plan of studies to identify frequencies for new components of 5G. As an example, to facilitate mobile connectivity by High Altitude IMT Base Stations (HIBS). HIBS may be used as a part of terrestrial IMT networks to provide mobile connectivity in underserved areas where it is difficult to be covered by ground-based IMT base stations at a reasonable cost.
IMT-2020, the name used in ITU for the standards of 5G, is expected to continue to be developed from 2020 onwards, with 5G trials and commercial activities already underway to assist in evaluating the candidate technologies and frequency bands that may be used for this purpose.
The first full-scale commercial deployments for 5G are expected sometime after IMT-2020 specifications are in force.
ITU will continue to work towards providing stable international regulations, sufficient spectrum and suitable standards for IMT-2020 and the core network to enable successful 5G deployments at the regional and international levels.
An overall presentation of WRC-19 results is still under preparation, but it is already evident that ITU is facilitating the development of 5G around the world.
In parallel, the ITU group responsible for IMT-2020 or 5G is continuing the evaluation of the proposed technologies that will allow network operators to offer 5G performances to their users for the next decade.
This evaluation will be completed in early February 2020 and will be followed by the finalization of the IMT-2020 standards.
ITU will make sure that the standards supporting all 5G applications will be in place in 2020 for the benefit of the entire telecommunication community.