mmWave finds a global following, GSA report says

Mobile network operators around the world are jumping on the millimeter-wave bandwagon, with networks and devices in early stages of deployment and more in the works, according to a new report from the Global Mobile suppliers Association.

The GSA examined the use of spectrum above 6 GHz on a global basis, and found that nearly 70 operators in 13 countries hold mmWave licenses that they can use for 5G network services. Of those, 14 are known to be deploying mmWave-based 5G.

Fourteen countries have also announced specific plans to allocate mmWave frequencies between now and the end of 2021. This includes the United States, which is slated to kick off its third and largest-ever auction of mmWave spectrum next week.

Among the GSA’s findings:

-Device support for bands above 6 GHz “is still at an early stage,” the report said. Eleven commercially available devices have for at least one 5G spectrum band above 6 GHz, with 59 announced devices that explicitly state support for mmWave bands — although the report pointed out that “details of spectrum support is patchy for pre-commercial devices.”

-Eight operators in seven countries are running 5G tests at 15 GHz, and 13 operators are testing the use of spectrum from 66 GHz to 76 GHz.

-At the recent World Radio Conference, a number of frequency ranges were identified for 4G and 5G use, with some new additions to existing 3GPP-specified frequencies. Those include 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, 45.5-47 GHz, 47.2-48.2 GHz and 66-71 GHz.

-The report also said that additional airwaves at 71-86 GHz are under consideration by national regulators and international bodies, or has been used in operator trials. The GSA said that it has identified four operators which have tested the use of mmWave spectrum between 81 GHz and 87 GHz.

“It is clear, with the number of spectrum awards expected over the coming years, and the agreement of new mmWave spectrum bands at WRC-19, the investment in these spectrum bands by operators and commitments to launch compatible devices by vendors, that the importance of spectrum above 6 GHz is going to continue to grow,” the report concluded.

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