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June 1st 2000


June 1st 2000: The promise of tomorrow’s global information society has taken a major step forward with the successful identification of additional radio spectrum to support the rapid rollout of "third generation" (3G) UMTS/IMT-2000 mobile communications services for all the world’s regions.

The historic announcement - finally approved at the WRC 2000 plenary - was made at the conclusion of the month-long WRC-2000 (World Radiocommunication Conference) meeting in Istanbul after four weeks of intense work by spectrum administrators representing every government. Representatives of the UMTS Forum’s Spectrum Aspects Group (SAG) provided support and expert inputs to the Conference, following four years involvement in this uniquely important and complex project.

The Inter-governmental Conference reached a global consensus to identify additional bands for the terrestrial component of UMTS/IMT-2000. Crucially, as well as providing additional capacity to support the future mass market for mobile multimedia services - calculated by the UMTS Forum to approach 2 billion users within the next decade - this result also paves the way for the introduction of 3G services even in regions where the core spectrum has not hitherto been available for IMT-2000. This means that mobile users will be able to access their personal information services using affordable handheld terminals wherever they travel. The additional terrestrial bands agreed by WRC2000 for IMT-2000 cover three alternative areas of spectrum to complement the IMT-2000 core bands (1885 - 2025 and 2110 - 2200 MHz) identified by a previous Conference in 1992. The new bands are:

  • 806-960 MHz
  • 1,710-1,885 MHz
  • 2,500-2,690 MHz

All of these three bands meet the UMTS Forum’s call for 160 MHz of global additional spectrum that is required to support the forecast growth of traffic and services that will outstrip the capacity of the present IMT-2000 core band in many markets before the end of this decade. This 160 MHz of additional spectrum in every ITU Region was calculated on the basis of traffic forecasts and the existing available mobile bands for 2nd and 3rd generation services.

This groundbreaking news comes at a time when the UMTS licensing process is rapidly progressing in many countries throughout Asia and Europe in order to commence commercial services by 2001/2002. More than 100 licenses are to be awarded to operators of high-capacity UMTS mobile multimedia services within the next 12-18 months.

Each government will make their own decision on the choice and timescale for making these additional bands available for IMT-2000 use. Factors influencing the availability of these additional frequencies include the local market demand for 3rd generation services and economic factors such as the stage of development of present 2nd generation networks. Some existing operators may also wish to consider migrating their networks to IMT-2000 in order to offer the benefits of lower costs and high-speed packet data services up to 2Mbit/s and beyond.

The decision on extension band spectrum follows an earlier milestone of equal importance reached last month when the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly unanimously approved the formal adoption of the first release of IMT-2000 radio interface specifications.

UMTS Forum Chairman Dr Bernd Eylert said today of the decision:

"The UMTS Forum wishes to congratulate the ITU and to thank all its members for this successful result. It’s an incredible milestone in the development of tomorrow’s mobile networks, and a fantastic result for the entire global mobile industry which is represented by the membership of the UMTS Forum - the world’s largest pan-industry group dedicated to 3G mobile matters."

Dr Eylert continued: "This decision is particularly welcome as it provides a solid basis for the regional introduction of 3G services, even in territories that were effectively blocked from the benefits of 3G in the past because of limited spectrum. The stage is now set for UMTS/IMT-2000 to deliver on its exciting promise of immense socio-economic benefits for all the world’s mobile users. The UMTS Forum will continue its work in this very important field to assist the regions in their IMT-2000/UMTS deployments."

Read full text of the ITU’s own press release here.

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