Telecoms industry stresses urgency for all sub-3GHz spectrum to be compatible with 5G

The sub-3 GHz spectrum continues to be an important topic for the telecommunications industry, but it is becoming increasingly urgent to address it as operators face increasing demand for data with limited resources.

At 13e At the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Bangkok, delegates came together again to collaborate on the ultimate goal of ubiquitous global connectivity. Huawei, alongside industry members, stressed the importance of sub-3GHz spectrum and innovative solutions to provide extensive and quality connectivity globally. “Ultra wideband, multi-antenna, green and smart” were the hot topics of discussion.

GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair has painted a bright landscape for operators. Sinclair proudly announced, “5G has broken records as the fastest growing connectivity standard since the industry began.” Sinclair also pointed to specific use cases that are “driving the need” for sub-3GHz bands and, in turn, driving the move towards advanced 5G, such as edge computing, XR extended reality, and reduced capacity services (RedCap). “If you’re going to get the maximum benefit from 5G deployment, we should need all the spectrum we can get and we absolutely need to take full advantage of midband and lowband,” Sinclair said.

ITU’s Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator Ashish Narayan, who later spoke at the summit, called for greater government collaboration to drive universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformations, as this in turn boosts turn economic development. He pointed out that there are currently three major connectivity challenges: providing meaningful connectivity and closing both the coverage gap and the usage gap.

Sub-3GHz evolution, all bands progressing for a leading 5G network

Sukrawan Rojanasaksotorn, Associate Director of RAN Planning and Optimization at True, said in his speech that True’s 5G network connects all 77 provinces of Thailand, with coverage of over 99% of the population in major cities. cities. “We aim to maximize the sub-3GHz value and improve coverage 3dB across all bands, ensuring a consistent 5G experience from outdoors to indoors.” She also pointed out that 8T8R is expected to be the trend and was deployed by True, leading to up to 1.8x increase in network quality and capacity in their latest test results.

Carlos Lopez Calvo, Telefonica Group Director for Wireless, began by presenting the telecom giant’s successful RAN strategy that leveraged massive MIMO and helped it be more energy efficient. He detailed that FDD spectrum was vital for indoor coverage in suburban and rural areas, and the company found positive results moving from mid-band 4T4R to 8T8R, the latter being a bonus more environmentally friendly because this is the advantage of broadband and multi-antennas.

A major challenge for all operators is the constant assessment of cost-benefit when deploying and configuring cell sites, Calvo noted, given the technological advancement and penetration of 5G devices. Multiband evolution is beneficial for maximizing spectrum value. This will bring more efficient carrier aggregation to achieve the world’s 1st 5G 3CC CA, in which the throughput of a single user reaches 1.7Gbps. Calvo added that the FDD bands will be the fundamental layer for 5G, the lower bands can be exploited through the ultra-wideband 4T4R. In addition, cell sites have increased their energy efficiency by 30% by reducing six boxes to two, resulting in increased connections on 4G and 5G.

Indonesian operator XL Axiata’s head of technology strategy and assurance group Kustanto noted that data traffic growth jumped 25% to 30% year-on-year in 2022 for the operator. This is a trend expected by operators around the world with the launch of more advanced services, but the increase in data has not increased in line with network capacity. Kustanto pointed out that one solution is to optimize current spectrum and take advantage of new technologies to improve spectrum efficiency. The company started using Huawei’s 8T8R to increase capacity, reduce power consumption by 26% and lower cost per GB.

Argentina Telecom highlighted how, like every other operator in the world, it faces the challenge of high capex and high opex when upgrading from 4G to 5G. To achieve this, the operator has used durable and energy-efficient equipment. Carlos Bardon, Network Planning Manager, said: “We needed to increase the capacity of our network to follow our strategy. A few months ago we completed a trial with the dual-band RRU 8T8R. The result was very good since we obtained a 40% increase in traffic and an improvement in the user experience. Another important thing is that we are continuing to deploy massive MIMO in the FDD and we are using this technology to increase capacity in higher density areas.

China Telecom Shanghai has had a different journey from most carriers as it faces the challenge of operating in an advanced multi-gigabit city. “The next step in building a high-speed 5G network is to deliver wider, deeper, and truly ubiquitous coverage. The coverage will be wider and deeper from urban areas to national areas, and from indoors to outdoors,” said Lu Heng, wireless director of China Telecom Shanghai. “Multi-band synergy technologies provide a better 5G user experience and fully exploit the value of the 3.5 GHz and 2.1 GHz spectrums.”

Turkcell’s Associate Director of Radio Network, Mustafa Karakoc, warned: “Due to the increasing demand for data, mobile sites are becoming much more complex and you need to simplify, especially before launching 5G.” The company switched from Huawei’s 4T6S solution to its 8T8R antennas, which allowed it to gain capacity on the 1.8 GHz and 2.1 GHz waves and achieve power savings of 15%.

Algeria Telecom Mobile (Mobilis), has a large population to serve with over 47 million subscribers, which CEO Chaouki Boukhazani compares to a small continent. “We need to embrace new solutions and technologies that strengthen the 5G market and for business success.” Mobilis is currently deploying 8T8R in all provinces of Algeria to gain market share over the next two years and achieve 50 Mbps throughput. Meanwhile, by adopting massive MIMO, we overcame the mountainous challenge of covering a large landmass to achieve the best coverage in a relatively short period of time,” Boukhazani added.

Finally, Mohamed Madkour, VP Solutions and Marketing of Huawei’s Global Carrier Network, spoke at length about Huawei’s latest all-scenario FDD products and solutions. The new ultra-wideband RRU supports simplified multi-band network deployment and millisecond-level power sharing across all carriers, bands, and RATs, reducing power consumption while ensuring GSM coverage and Legacy UMTS. For unipolar scenarios, Huawei’s BladeAAU FDD solution, which is the first in the industry to combine Massive MIMO FDD AAUs and sub-3GHz passive antennas. It allows simple deployment on a pole. Huawei also launched the RuralLink solution designed for remote areas, with a simplified design and ultra-low power consumption.

Madkour stressed that: “For the evolution of technologies in the future, we will continue our current approach of pursuing ultra-wideband, multi-antenna and intelligent technologies to provide the ultimate user experience, reduce operator costs and contribute to the realization of green and carbon projects. emissions targets.

The Sub-3GHz FDD Gigaband white paper was released during the last session of the summit. This white paper analyzes the development of radio remote units – central parts of base stations – and explains the current state and technical challenges of the sub-3 GHz bands constantly evolving towards green, simplified and efficient networks. It also explores trends in the evolution of sub-3GHz and ultra-wideband multi-antenna technologies, providing a valuable reference for wireless regulators, mobile operators, consulting analysts, and equipment manufacturers.

“To resolve the conflict between limited sites, spectral resources and the increasing demand for capacity, the increasing complexity of more RATs, more bands and the goal of energy saving, the only way out is to pursue the ‘innovation towards ultra-wideband, multi-antenna, green and smart technologies,’ said Cao Ming, Vice President of Huawei Wireless Network Product Line, in the keynote.

Connectivity has not slowed down in its rapid development and we can clearly see that here. Carriers face increasing challenges to their bottom line as they strive to meet the endless desire for advanced connectivity. Operators need better access to frequency bands, especially those in the sub-3 GHz to support their 5G ambitions, and it will take a lot of industry collaboration to get there.

Operators can also prepare by tapping into innovative solutions that are sustainable and scalable, without hurting the bottom line too much. This will contribute to the industry’s ultimate goal of ubiquitous connectivity.

Download Huawei’s GIGABAND FDD Sub-3GHz white paper here.


Robert M. Larson