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Significant step forward for the wireless industry at WRC-07
New UHF spectrum identified for IMT

The UMTS Forum welcomes the allocation and identification of new IMT frequency bands at this year’s ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07) as a reasonable result for the wireless industry and mobile subscribers. This additional spectrum will allow cost-effective coverage extension for 3G networks, whilst providing some capacity needed by the industry for future high-bit rate services delivered via next-generation IMT- Advanced networks.

One of the most significant results from WRC-07 is the allocation and identification of spectrum within the upper part of the UHF band (470-862 MHz) that is currently used for television broadcasting. This band is particularly attractive for mobile operators, thanks to propagation characteristics that allow good in-building network coverage as well as cost-effective wide area cellular coverage.

Within this band, 72 MHz of frequencies in the range from 790-862 MHz were identified for IMT 3G mobile services in countries in Region 1 (Europe), and in Region 3 (Asia-Pacific), and a band 698-806 MHz in Region 2 (Americas) and in some countries in Region 3 (including Japan, China, Republic of Korea and India).

“Thanks to the efforts of our mobile industry as a whole and of the UMTS Forum, a significant amount of new spectrum has been allocated to mobile services”, commented UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé.

“We had been hoping at WRC-07 for around 100MHz in the UHF band for mobile in Europe, but this result is welcome nevertheless”, noted Bienaimé. “The outcome of the conference does not fully correspond to what was targeted, but it is the result of a successful and difficult compromise between all the parties”.

“Prior to the start of WRC-07, some administrations in Europe had made it clear they wanted to postpone decisions on the allocation of UHF frequencies for mobile until the next WRC in 2011”, continued Bienaimé. “The 72 MHz that has been allocated now gives an excellent platform for further harmonisation of this band, plus a start to actual deployments as analogue TV is progressively switched off.”

Actual availability of these UHF frequencies identified at WRC-07 depends on national timescales for switchover from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. In practice, this may be concentrated around the 2010-2015 timeframe, although some countries have committed to complete digital switchover sooner.

During preparations for the conference, the UMTS Forum had estimated – in line with the ITU’s own calculations – that a significant amount of new spectrum, up to 1000 MHz in the most advanced countries, would be needed to fulfil future needs for IMT-Advanced. The identified spectrum at WRC-07, almost 400 MHz, does not meet this requirement, but nonetheless gives sufficient basis to initiate the development of IMT-Advanced.

In addition to 790-862 MHz and 698-806 MHz bands the following frequency bands below were identified for IMT at WRC- 07:

450- 470 MHz: The band that was used for analogue mobile services has been identified ‘worldwide’ for IMT with the following limitations:

  • Although most CITEL countries support this identification, the USA and Canada will not implement it for IMT since they have some reservations.
  • In Europe, the band is already licensed where available, and some CEPT countries are implementing IMT in the band.

2.3-2.4 GHz: The UMTS Forum has supported the identification of this band that was identified globally to IMT with the support of APT (Asia-Pacific) and ATU (African countries).

3.4-3.6 GHz: These C-band frequencies were identified by WRC-07 in Region 1 & 3 for IMT, with the endorsement of around 100 supporting countries. Although less than expected, this 200 MHz tranche of frequencies is nonetheless a good start for the development of IMT-Advanced services.