In alignment for WRC-15?

Significant progress achieved on plans for 700MHz spectrum

In 2015, the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) will address under its Agenda Item 1.2 the introduction of IMT/Mobile Broadband in the 694-790 MHz band in Africa, Europe and the Middle-East (known as ITU Region 1).

The 700 MHz frequency band is already tagged for the deployment of LTE networks in many countries outside Region 1. This is because it delivers the same type of propagation benefits as the 800MHz band (see footnote).

Countries around the world are rapidly adopting the so called APT-700 band plan (also referred to as ‘3GPP band 28’) for 700MHz.  This proposed spectrum arrangement promises very appealing economies of scale plus the attraction of worldwide roaming.

In Europe, January’s CEPT CPG PTD#2 meeting in Marseille highlighted that – out of the many band plan proposals initially tabled – two options seem to be most hotly debated:

- A brand new 2x40MHz band plan
- The existing APT-700 band plan

This new 2x40MHz band plan proposes slightly more spectrum. In contrast, the APT-700 plan provides 2x30MHz, with significant benefits in terms of harmonisation with other regions.

But while the debate on the most appropriate band plan continues, significant progress has already been achieved. The two competing band plans proposed by the industry are already aligned in one tiny, but crucial detail. Both schemes are currently proposing that transmission from mobile broadband terminals (the so-called uplink) begins at 703MHz. Surprising as it may be, this tiny alignment will significantly facilitate the preparation of the WRC-15.

Why this small but important similarity? The reason is that terrestrial TV is expected to keep operating in the band below 694MHz in some European countries. As such, it’s important to ensure that mobile broadband (LTE) terminals above 703MHz and TV receiver below 694MHz can coexist.

The Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) Wireless Group (AWG) has conducted thorough studies on the coexistence of mobile broadband (LTE) terminals and TV receivers in its report APT/AWG/REP-24 . These studies were one of the critical aspects leading to the definition of the APT-700 band plan.

By fixing 703MHz as the starting point for mobile broadband (LTE) terminal transmissions, CEPT would benefit from a number of previous studies on the coexistence between LTE and Digital TV. This will significantly simplify preparations for the WRC-15.

Maybe you were surprised that the German Federal Network Agency openly considered the 700MHz band plan as a short/middle term opportunity in its recent public consultation. Here, the adoption of 703MHz as a starting point of mobile broadband transmissions may well be the answer to your question.

Minor as it may seem, this innocuous-sounding technical parameter is in reality a major step towards the future of mobile broadband networks.

* Access to the 800MHz enabled German mobile network operators (MNOs) to achieve country-wide coverage less than three years following the auction of the band.   


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