Governments around the world recognise the importance of mobile services provided by 5G and its evolution as an essential element in the digital transformation of their countries.
Providing the ‘anytime, anywhere’ 5G connectivity that is necessary for Metaverse augmented/extended reality glasses, smart cities, connected vehicles, and smart deliveries with drones and robots will generate traffic volumes far greater than today’s smartphone-driven data usage rates.
GSMA expects that 5G will generate $960 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030 on a global basis, with mid-bands and representing almost 65% of the overall socio-economic value generated by 5G. According to the analysis, up to 40% of the expected benefits of mid-bands 5G could be lost if no additional mid-bands spectrum is assigned to mobile services.
Source: GSMA Intelligence
GSMA and Coleago consulting have estimated that 2 GHz of mid-bands spectrum (including the currently available spectrum) will be required on average between 2025-2030 to reliably deliver the IMT-2020 service requirements in an economically feasible manner in urban areas. Beyond urban areas, this spectrum will address the digital divide, providing affordable high-speed fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband to small towns and villages, increase available capacity along major transport routes, and help addressing the connectivity needs of industrial use cases.
The same report concludes that, while in principle it is possible to mitigate the demand for spectrum by building additional sites (network densification), this is practically and economically unfeasible for network operators. A deficit of 800-1000 MHz in the required mid-bands spectrum would translate into a total cost of network ownership increase of 3-5x over a ten-year period, and into a 1.8-2.9x greater carbon footprint. This analysis does not address the practical limitations from acquiring additional sites, nor the interference management and mobility challenges.
Mid-bands spectrum is extremely important for mobile networks as these frequencies provide a unique combination of capacity and coverage for wide-area services. Mid-bands public macro-cellular networks can serve multiple use cases with the same spectrum.
The use of the 6 GHz band for macro-cellular deployments is key to ensure a balance with the spectrum assigned for local-area deployments. We already see an imbalance appear in some jurisdictions – including in Europe.
Spectrum for macro-cellular wide-area deployments and for local-area deployments in Europe
Source: Deutsche Telekom presentation at the 2nd European 6 GHz webinar – December 2021 
Co-channel operation of 5G NR and Wi-Fi (or NR-U) in the same geographic area would result in harmful mutual interference, to the extent that they would not be able to perform at the levels for which they were designed. Given that 5G NR and Wi-Fi must operate in different frequencies, the question arises as to how much additional mid-bands spectrum should be allocated for use by 5G NR and Wi-Fi, respectively.
The performance of Wi-Fi is ultimately constrained by the speed of the fixed broadband (FBB) connectivity supplied to the Wi-Fi access points. FTTH connections to homes at around 1 Gbit/s are expected to become broadly available in advanced economies from 2026. With this reaching about 6 Gbit/s from 2029. Furthermore, 10 Gbit/s speeds are expected to be introduced in the next decade, subject to market demand.
Simulations for a dense urban apartment setting have shown that, when using a 160 MHz channel in the 5 GHz or 6 GHz bands, each Wi-Fi 6/6E access point can deliver a downlink throughput in the order of 500 to 1000 Mbit/s depending on the access point’s capabilities. We expect that more advanced access points will support throughputs that will be in the order of 2 Gbit/s in a 160 MHz channel.
Similarly to 5G, high bands (e.g. 57-71 GHz) are also available (or are being considered) on a licence-exempt basis in many countries. Going forward and considering the growing demand for high-capacity short-range RLAN communications, Wi-Fi is expected to increasingly exploit a combination of its existing mid-bands spectrum as well as high-bands.
The 6 GHz band offers the opportunity to help meeting the identified need for additional mid-bands spectrum. Policy makers are currently considering different policy decisions for the band with most considering at least the upper part (6425–7125 MHz) for licensed use.
The international interest generated by this band among industry and administrations is driving the rapid consolidation of the equipment ecosystem. 3GPP has concluded the technical specifications of 5G NR base stations and user equipment for 6425-7125 MHz in 3GPP band n104. Commercial 5G NR products in the 6 GHz band are expected to be available when national assignments of these frequencies occur.
Advances in radio technology allow us to achieve similar coverage with 6 GHz as with 3.5 GHz for both outdoor-to-outdoor and most outdoor-to-indoor communications. This has been confirmed by simulations and field tests with early prototype equipment. Mobile operators will therefore be able to upgrade their existing 3.5 GHz sites with 6 GHz radios without the need for additional sites. The larger available bandwidth in the 6 GHz band will allow significantly greater capacity compared with what can be made available with the 3.5 GHz band. Further capacity field tests are planned, targeting the end of 2022.
5G NR offers excellent managed quality of service for industrial and enterprise use cases which have more challenging latency and reliability requirements, while Wi-Fi can play a complementary role in addressing use cases with less stringent requirements on a best effort basis.
The Metaverse will involve AR/VR/XR in both indoor and outdoor scenarios for consumers and enterprises. When outdoors, smartphones will need to be connected to 5G macro-cellular mobile networks with sufficient bandwidth in order to provide on-the-move connectivity to XR headsets. Alternatively, XR headsets might themselves directly connect to 5G mobile networks, avoiding the need for short-range communications. The short-range personal area connections between smartphones and headsets will rely on the licence-exempt 5 GHz band (and the lower 6 GHz in some countries) and well as the high-bands.
Ubiquitous consumer and enterprise Metaverse needs the 6 GHz band
GSMA Intelligence has done a socioeconomic benefit analysis for the different potential allocations of 6 GHz, and concluded that in general, allocating the full 6 GHz band for licensed mobile use will drive the greatest economic benefit while allocating the full 6 GHz band for licence-exempt use will not be the most beneficial option in any of the considered analyses. In some countries allocating the lower 6 GHz band for licence-exempt use and the upper 6 GHz for licensed mobile use could drive the greatest economic benefit only under certain conditions (e.g. where FBB speeds of 10 Gbit/s are available to all fibre/cable users)
The 6 GHz band has an allocation to Mobile Service on a primary basis in the ITU Radio Regulations (RR), along with other primary services. Accordingly, studies of sharing and coexistence between 5G networks and other primary services in the 6425-7125 MHz band are being undertaken by ITU-R in preparation for the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference of 2023 (WRC-23). Although discussions are still on-going, a large number of contributions submitted to ITU-R by administrations and industry have concluded that 5G macro-cellular deployments can coexist with the Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) uplink. Studies have further indicated that co-existence with FSS downlink and the Fixed Service (FS) is also feasible through coordination and/or geographic separation on a case-by-case basis.
Capacity supply attrition from existing satellites and prospects for new systems in the extended C-band, planned C-band and 7025-7075 MHz band
The WRC decision in December 2023 will be based on the strategic decisions of administrations who should carefully consider the information provided in this paper and provide the most appropriate balance between licensed and licensed-exempt spectrum at mid-bands through identification of the upper 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz) for IMT.
The WRC-23 opportunity for the 6 GHz band
“6 GHz opportunity: licensed spectrum for mobile networks” – June 2022
Willing to accept IMT identification for 6425-7125 MHz,
5 conditions including technical conditions for FSS (E-s) coexistence based on the “Expected EIRP mask”.
Outcome (*) from the CEPT final WRC-23 preparatory meeting
(Ireland, 18-22 September 2023)
6425-7025 (Region 1), 7025-7125 MHz (globally):
(*) Approved European Common Proposal from the final CPG-23 meeting
(**) Europe will consider, by 2024 or later, the best usage of the band: either IMT, or RLAN or a shared use between IMT and RLAN
Supports IMT identification for 7025-7125 MHz in Region 3
Possible new AI for WRC-27 for 6425-7025 MHz in Region 3
Outcome from APT final WRC-23 preparatory meeting
(Australia, 14-19 August 2023)
(*) APT common proposal on WRC-23 AI1.2
NOC for 6425-7125 GHz for all Regions.
Outcome from CITEL final WRC-23 preparatory meeting
(Canada, 28 August – 1 September)
6425-7125 MHz (globally):
(*) Documents from the final Permanent Consultative Committee II (PCC.II) meeting on WRC-23 preparation./RES. 156 (XLII-23)
Supports IMT identification for 6425-7125 MHz.
Proposed technical conditions for FSS (E-s) based on the “Expected EIRP mask”.
Outcome (*) from the final ATU WRC-23 preparatory meeting
(Cameroon, 7-11 August 2023)
6425-7025 (Region 1), 7025-7125 MHz (globally):
(*) Outcome from the final APM meeting
ASMG supports identification of 6425-7025 in Region1 and 7025-7125 MHz globally for IMT by creating a new RR footnote associated to a new Resolution that includes technical conditions to protect FSS (E to S) based on ‘’Expected EIRP mask’’ ( for 6425-7125 MHz).
ASMG regional common proposal submitted to WRC-23 Outcome from the final ASMG meeting in preparation for WRC-23 (Bahrain, Sept. 9-13)
6425-7025 (Region 1), 7025-7125 MHz (globally):
Supports IMT identification for 6425-7100 MHz in Region 1 and globally
Proposed technical conditions for FSS (E-s) based on the Expected EIRP mask (for 6425-6525 MHz only)
Other conditions for FSS Earth stations, FS stations, SOS and SRS stations (7100-7250 MHz).
Outcome from the RCC final WRC-23 preparatory meeting
(Russian Federation, 4-8 September 2023)
6425-7100 MHz (Region 1 and globally):
7100-7125 MHz (globally):
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