The Evolution of 5G Spectrum

The purpose of this briefing paper is to identify spectrum pipeline for the next generation of wireless technology. It is clear that more capacity will be needed for the variety of use cases that may emerge into the next decade as 5G continues to evolve beyond mobile broadband smartphone use cases and into new use cases like fixed wireless access, enterprise and vertical industries. Spectrum is the “raw material” that is needed to support new services, and it is important to create a runway of different spectrum types so spectrum can continue fueling potential future use cases such as eXtended Reality, connected cars, and the Metaverse.

Additional spectrum will need to be identified in the spectrum pipeline to address new use cases moving toward 2030 and beyond. The 3-15.35 GHz range (due to propagation characteristics, preferably below 10 GHz) is most suitable for next-generation wireless technology requirements. 5G and 5G-Advanced standards currently support bands below 7.125 GHz and above 24 GHz. The next generation 6G standard is expected to operate in all bands that 5G and 5G-Advanced support, as well as support 7.125 GHz – 24 GHz bands. The 2023 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference1 adopted a new agenda item that identifies a spectrum pipeline within the 4.4-15.35 GHz range for the next generation of wireless technology.

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