Living in harmony: UMTS Forum backs lower part of APT-700 band plan for Region 1

Support to use harmonised ‘band 28’ spectrum for LTE gains international momentum

Already marked for deployment of LTE in many countries, the 700 MHz frequency band appeals to mobile operators and governments due to its excellent propagation characteristics. In rural regions it lets operators cover large areas with fewer base stations. In urban environments it gives superior in-building coverage compared with higher frequencies (around 2GHz) that are currently used to provide 3G services.

Many countries of the world are adopting the so-called APT-700 band plan (also known as ‘3GPP band 28’). This promises appealing economies of scale, plus near-worldwide roaming opportunities thanks to global harmonisation.

The list of countries that have announced they are working towards implementing the Band 28 plan is already impressive and it’s growing fast. To date, band 28’s confirmed backers include Argentina, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Taiwan, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Discussions are already underway in many other countries – including China – that represent a very large base of potential users, promising obvious economies of scale. Meanwhile, auctions for spectrum in this band have already been completed in Japan and Australia.

In 2015, the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) will address Agenda Item 1.2: the introduction of IMT/Mobile Broadband in the 694-790 MHz band in Region 1 (Europe, Middle East, and Africa). The UMTS Forum has already given its support to adopting a lower part of APT-700 band plan for ITU Region 1.

Specifically, the UMTS Forum advocates the adoption of 2 x 30MHz for mobile services in the 700MHz band, harmonised with the ‘lower duplex’ portion of the APT-700 band plan. The proposed arrangement optimizes the use of frequencies in both 800 and 700 MHz spectrum bands, thus giving access to at least 120 MHz of paired spectrum below 1GHz.

Global harmonisation of the relevant technical conditions related to lower duplex of the 3GPP band 28 would dramatically simplify the design of mobile terminals and network equipment. This drives economies of scale, reducing the cost of devices and services to end users and enabling global roaming, while reducing overall network deployment costs.

“Band 28 has fantastic potential to become the most harmonised LTE band worldwide. And this opens up the possibility of just one handset design that could potentially operate in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Middle East” notes Guillaume Lebrun of the UMTS Forum Spectrum Aspects Group (SAG).

“The support it’s already gaining in Regions 2 and 3 now makes a portion of the APT-700 plan a particularly compelling choice for Region 1, too. We may be in the position – sooner rather than later – that 700 MHz is the world’s most widely-harmonised 4G band choice.”

As of February 2013, the EC published a mandate on 700 MHz (694-790 MHz). This aims to accelerate a common position in Europe for channel arrangements and services, thus facilitating the development of EU-wide equipment.

Adoption of APT-700 band plan: worldwide status

Source: UMTS Forum. Information presented is current as of 11th July 2013 and subject to change

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