Mid-band spectrum delivers high-capacity 5G wide-area coverage. However, mobile data growth and a variety of existing and new 5G use cases urge the need for additional mid-bands. Networks will require, on average, 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum per country towards the end of the decade, according to GSMA, and 6 GHz is a critical resource and, in many countries, the only one. To this end, Ericsson and MediaTek have joined forces to achieve an industry-first, 3GPP-compliant data call on 6 GHz 5G NR as part of efforts to build a global ecosystem for this spectrum.
Existing mid-bands like 3.5 GHz have been crucial in providing wide-area capacity and performance in an economically feasible manner. To enable 5G to scale up and head toward the next phase (5G Advanced), the industry needs more mid-band spectrum that will cater to mobile data growth and use cases such as extended reality (XR). The 6 GHz spectrum can provide the additional mid-band frequency range needed to secure 5G innovation and socio-economic benefits in wide-area environments.
International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) identification of the 6 GHz band is a key agenda item of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) 2023, which takes place from November 20 to December 15, 2023, in Dubai, UAE. The conference will gather national government leaders, regulators, and industry players and will be an important step towards a global ecosystem.
In the run-up to WRC-2023, Ericsson and MediaTek have successfully carried out an interoperability test on the 6 GHz licensed 5G band as part of efforts by telecom vendors, service providers, and device/chipset makers to build a global ecosystem for this spectrum. The test involving 5G NR data calls over 6 GHz band was performed with a MediaTek prototype test device and an Ericsson base station. This was the first 5G NR ecosystem call on the 3GPP-defined n104 band (6.425 – 7.125 GHz).
Per Beming, Head of Standard & Industry Initiatives at Ericsson, says: ”Mobile networks play a central role in the digitalization of society. But they require a sufficient amount of spectrum with the right regulatory conditions to provide the needed connectivity. 5G is the fastest growing mobile generation to date, and many countries may soon run out of mid-band spectrum. The joint demo with MediaTek shows growing global ecosystem support for the 6 GHz band, and both consumers and society at large stand to benefit hugely if this spectrum is made available as a midband expansion layer.”
Dr. HC Hwang, General Manager of Wireless Communication Systems & Partnerships at MediaTek, says: “Through our unmatched wireless IP and product platforms, MediaTek supports the vital 6GHz band in both unlicensed and licensed spaces, in reflection of regional regulations and product needs, through comprehensive wireless and cellular technologies ready to accommodate each ecosystem.”
The 5G NR call over 6 GHz used pre-commercial 3GPP radio solutions on both Ericsson and MediaTek side. Additionally, Ericsson has commercial 3GPP radio solutions in the pipeline, ready to be deployed once the licensed spectrum is made available, based on market demand.