Friday, 22 August 2008 
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2.6 Band 470-862 MHz: extending mobile coverage

GSM subscriber numbers, traffic and coverage are increasing strongly; however, still in year 2007 many growth markets have a coverage limited to main cities. The new and significant growth areas are today in markets with relatively low mobile penetration such as China, India, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. These markets should be particularly addressed in the short-term with optimised and enhanced GSM and IMT-2000/UMTS solutions for affordable provisions of voice, text messaging and internet connections. In the medium and longer term, there is a need for very cost effective IMT-2000/UMTS coverage solutions, business models and affordable IMT-2000/UMTS devices.

The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting will free some spectrum in the band 470 – 862 MHz due to the higher spectrum efficiency of the digital TV technology, in combination with satellite and cable based systems for TV distribution. This freed-up spectrum, the so called ‘digital dividend’, would present a significant amount of spectrum and it would be very suitable for mobile communications. The size of digital dividend is expected to be in the order of 100MHz.

In Region 1, The ITU Regional Radiocommunication Conference 2006 (RRC-06) established a frequency plan for terrestrial digital TV broadcasting, the Geneva 2006 plan (GE-06). RRC-06 results provide some opportunity for the possible introduction of mobile applications in the TV broadcasting UHF band (470-862 MHz): firstly, under the condition that it is in agreement with the ITU-R Radio Regulations; secondly, if these mobile applications are pertinent to the so called envelop concept of the plan GE-06. Therefore, introduction of IMT-2000/UMTS in this band would only be possible if the Mobile Service is allocated on a primary basis and also identified for IMT. Consequently, it may be necessary to rearrange some frequencies in GE-06 plan.

  1. In order to estimate the benefits of using the band 470-862 MHz, compared to the 900 MHz and 2 GHz bands, for extension of IMT-2000/UMTS network coverage, a study has been made to find out the number of base station sites needed in each band to cover the same area. The results of the study presented by the UMTS Forum in the Report 38 confirm the clear benefit in terms of significant lower number of base station sites needed when providing IMT-2000/UMTS coverage using the UHF-band, especially at 470-600 MHz, compared to the 2 GHz band. This is certainly beneficial in large areas of low population density. Lower frequency bands offer longer-range radio wave propagation characteristics than higher frequency bands and therefore would allow operators to provide IMT-2000/UMTS network coverage with a reduced number of base station sites. This leads to lower network investment costs, especially, in areas with low user density where the revenues are low, making communications affordable in emerging markets.
Besides, UMTS Forum has studied the alternative planning possibilities of UHF band so that at the same time, current number of digital TV layers, as in GE-06 plan, could be provided and also a harmonized digital dividend of around 100 MHz could be found. A harmonized sub-band identified for IMT would not only allow efficient solution in terms of coverage but would also provide the best feasible way to facilitate successful IMT-2000/UMTS and IMT-Advanced deployments.

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