6 GHz opportunity: licensed spectrum for mobile networks

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.

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Mid-bands 5G NR spectrum: needs and value

The great socio-economic value of mid-bands for 5G

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.

Annual impact of 5G on GDP, by band, 2020-2030 [2]

Source: GSMA Intelligence

What is the amount of mid-bands spectrum needed for mobile services?

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.

Extreme network densification is not a feasible option to cope with the absence of additional mid-bands spectrum.

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.

Need for balance between macro-cellular and local-area deployments

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 [6]

Understanding RLAN spectrum needs

Co-channel operation of licenced 5G NR and licence-exempt Wi-Fi or NR-U in the same geographic area is not feasible.

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.

Wi-Fi spectrum availability should account for such constraints on home connection speeds

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. 

Wi-Fi technology advances will allow home connectivity demands to be met with the currently available mid-bands spectrum, even in dense urban apartment settings.

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.

Utilisation of high-band spectrum for Wi-Fi will reduce the need for license-exempt mid-bands

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 licensed 6 GHz band opportunity

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 6GHz ecosystem is building up

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.

Technology advancements allow similar coverage in the 6 GHz and the 3.5 GHz bands.

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 is required for industries and enterprises

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.

Ubiquitous consumer and enterprise Metaverse needs 5G

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

In general, allocating the full 6 GHz band for licensed mobile use will drive the greatest economic benefit

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)

WRC-23 unique opportunity to harmonize contiguous 700 MHz in mid-bands

Studies show that 5G macro-cellular deployments can coexist with the incumbent systems with primary allocation in the band.

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.

What is the current and expected usage of FSS UL in the band?

A recent study by Euroconsult on the usage of the Extended C-band (3400-3700/6425-6725 MHz), Planned C-band (4500-4800/6425-6725 MHz) and 7025-7075 MHz in Region 1, concluded that ~70% of the 54 satellites currently deploying Extended and Planned C-band on the downlink and visible from ITU Region 1 are expected to no longer be in operation by 2030. The usage of Extended and Planned C-band capacity would currently represent around 2% of the total commercial satellite capacity leased. The demand for Extended C-band capacity at 3400-3700 MHz (and for the associated Extended C-band uplinks) is on a declining trend which seems likely to continue.

Capacity supply attrition from existing satellites and prospects for new systems in the extended C-band, planned C-band and 7025-7075 MHz band

NOTE: The “Occupied spectrum” is the actual bandwidth filed by the satellite operator. This is based on the satellite’s technical design.
Source: Euroconsult

WRC-23 offers the unique opportunity to harmonize contiguous 700 MHz in mid-bands

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

Download the "Licensed 6 GHz Opportunity" whitepaper

“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):

  • Accept IMT identification under the following conditions explained in a draft Resolution:
    • Protection of existing primary services
    • Continued operation of radio astronomy and EESS (passive) for sea surface temperature (SST) measurements. Proposing new primary allocations at 4.2-4.4, and 8.4-8.5 GHz
    • No limitations imposed on the existing services and their future development
    • Outlining opportunities for WAS/RLAN use of the band as well as flexibility regarding the future usage in Europe (i.e. IMT, WAS/RLAN or under a shared framework between IMT and RLAN) (**)
    • No IMT agenda item for WRC-27 studying additional IMT identifications within 7-30 GHz where IMT would have the potential to jeopardise important European space and governmental spectrum
  • FSS (E-s) coexistence: based on the “expected EIRP mask”, proposing a mask that is not contained in the CPM report

(*) 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 Members support identification of the frequency band
    7025-7125 MHz for IMT globally
    through Method 5C together with a new WRC Resolution. APT Members are considering whether this proposed new WRC Resolution could be combined with a potential WRC Resolution for 6 425-7 125 MHz in Region 1, if agreed

(*) 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):

  • Administrations propose NOC for the identification of the frequency band 6425-7125 MHz for IMT in all Regions.

(*) 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):

  • Support IMT identification band with technical conditions contained in a draft new WRC Resolution
    (Methods 4C and 5C)
  • FSS (E-s) coexistence: based on the “expected EIRP mask”,
    Example 3 in the CPM report

(*) 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):

  • ASMG supports identification of 6425-7025 in Region 1 and of 7025-7125 MHz globally for IMT by creating a new RR footnote associated to a new Resolution
  • The proposed resolution includes technical conditions to protect FSS (E to S) based on ‘’Expected EIRP mask’’ ( for 6425-7125 MHz) corresponding to Alternative 2 example 3 of the CPM report.


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):

  • Support the IMT identification with the following conditions:
    • it should not impose additional regulatory/technical restrictions on FSS Earth stations, FS stations as well as on SOS and SRS stations operating in the 7100-7250 MHz band;
    • FSS (E-s) protection can be provided based on RR Article 21, however for IMT BS with AAS an expected EIRP spectral density mask should be applied in the 6425-6525 MHz band;

7100-7125 MHz (globally):

  • In the case of IMT identification, protect existing services from interference in the same band and in adjacent bands (including FS stations as well as space stations of SOS, SRS and EESS (passive)); no additional technical or regulatory restrictions on FS, SRS and SOS stations should be imposed
    (Methods 4D and 5D)

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