5G Frequency Bands

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- everything RF

Mar 17, 2021

5G deployment has been accelerating around the world in the last couple of years. Various 5G frequency bands are currently being used by telecom operators starting from under 1 GHz up to 43 GHz with 3GPP exploring the possibility of using even higher frequencies. Various countries have auctioned different 5G frequency bands with the n77 (3300 - 4200 MHz) mid-band frequency range being the most used for 5G across the world. The n257 (26.5 - 29.5 GHz), n258 (24.25 - 27.5 GHz) and n261 (27.5 - 28.35 GHz) bands are most often used for mmWave 5G with some countries also allocating low-band frequencies (1-2 GHz) for 5G deployment. mmWave frequency bands are expected to witness increased utilization in 2021-2022 as more telecom operators start adopting the standalone (SA) 5G model.

5G New Radio (NR) is the new OFDM-based global wireless standard for future mobile networks. This next-generation cellular technology is succeeding 4G LTE to provide considerably higher data rates and connectivity.

The 5G NR broadly uses two frequency ranges:

5G FR1 (Frequency Range 1): This consists of Sub-6 GHz frequency bands allocated to 5G. Networks operating on FR1 may not provide the absolute best 5G performance, but they provide a decent balance between range and performance. Click here for more information on Frequency Range 1 (FR1).

5G FR2 (Frequency Range 2): This consists of the operational frequencies that have been allocated to 5G in the mmWave region (above 24 GHz). Networks operating on FR2 bands can achieve gigabit data rates or even higher with extremely low latency. Click here for more information on Frequency Range 2 (FR2).

Telecom operators from around the world have been deploying 5G services using various 5G (NR) frequency bands, with numerous operators lined up for 5G deployment soon.

5G Frequency Bands Around the World

Asia: Various Asian countries are leading the 5G race with widespread deployment using the mid-band and mmWave frequency bands. In the mid-band range, n78 (3300 - 3800 MHz) is one of the most used frequency bands with the n257 (26.5 - 29.5 GHz) being the most common in mmWave range.

Countries such a China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan already have significant number of 5G subscribers with a report stating that China had more than 65 Million 5G subscribers in 2020. Telecom operator China Mobile, in collaboration with Huawei, recently achieved a speed of 3 Gbps on a 4.9 GHz 5G indoor network.

USA: The United States is pushing hard to launch 5G services on all frequency bands (Sub-1 GHz, Sub-6 GHz and mmWave). They have already auctioned frequencies from 24 to 47 GHz and subsequent auctions for remaining spectrum are in the pipeline. The FCC also have plans to utilize much higher frequencies (in the range of 90 GHz) in the future to deploy 5G services which will provide extremely fast data rates with excellent latency. Click here to view 5G spectrum allocation in the United States.

Canada: Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) auctioned the 600 MHz band for 5G deployment in 2019. The 3.5 GHz, 26 GHz, 28 GHz and the 38 GHz bands are expected to be auctioned in 2021-2022. Click here to view 5G frequency bands in Canada.

Europe: Many European countries have been early adopters of 5G. Europe is witnessing 5G services being rolled out using mid-band frequencies, n78 (3300 - 3800 MHz) in particular. Some countries, such as Finland, Italy and Norway, have auctioned the higher mmWave frequency bands with various other countries planning to hold auctions for the mmWave spectrum in the coming months. Click here to view 5G frequency bands in Europe.

Australia: Australia had auctioned the frequencies in the n78 band, from 3575 - 3700 MHz, in 2018. The 3.6 GHz band spectrum auction raised a total of $850 million. The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) has proposed three distinct approaches in the 26 GHz band to assign spectrum for 5G deployment:

  • 25.1–27.5 GHz in defined areas (metropolitan and regional centers)
  • 25.1–27.5 GHz in all other areas
  • 24.7–25.1 GHz Australia-wide

Click here to view 5G frequency bands in Australia.

South America: South America is yet to witness widespread 5G deployment. Uruguay had auctioned frequencies in the 2.5 GHz and n261 (27.5-28.35 GHz) band while countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Colombia are planning to auction low-band, mid-band and mmWave spectrum in the coming months to kickstart 5G deployment.

everything RF has created a global map of 5G Frequency bands allocated for most countries. Click here or on the map below to see 5G frequency bands for each country.

Deploying 5G networks based on Frequency Range 2 (FR2) bands increases the complexity and overall designing of the network. In order to ease the initial phase of 5G deployment for operators, there are two modes of 5G deployment being implemented around the world:

Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G: This is the model of deployment where 5G services are provided without an end-to-end 5G network. This means that the network will rely on some previous generation (4G LTE) infrastructure. Click here to know more about NSA 5G.

Standalone (SA) 5G: This is the model of deployment where 5G services are provided through an end-to-end 5G network. It brings high-speed data, ultra-low latency along with a host of improvements that make 5G a revolutionary technology. Click here to know more about SA 5G.

Click here to know why low latency is important for 5G.