Microwave Journal
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GSA mmWave Report

GSA: 97 Operators Globally Now Hold mmWave Spectrum for 5G

June 23, 2020

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reported that 97 operators in 17 countries/territories hold public licences enabling operation of 5G networks using mmWave spectrum. Of these, 22 operators are known to be already deploying 5G networks using mmWave spectrum while 13 countries/territories have announced formal (date-specified) plans for assigning frequencies above 24 GHz between now and end-2021. The 24.25–29.5 GHz 5G mmWave spectrum range is the most-licensed/deployed to date, with 123 operators in 42 countries/territories investing in 5G (in the form of trials, licences, deployments or operational networks) across this spectrum range.

This global momentum behind high band mmWave spectrum for 5G networks is also being replicated in the devices ecosystem, where there are now 84 announced 5G devices explicitly supporting one or more of the 5G spectrum bands above 24 GHz, up from 59 at the end of November 2019. Twenty-seven of those devices are understood to be commercially available, as of the beginning of June 2020.

 The GSA report contains detailed data on 5G spectrum positions in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands mmWave including spectrum bands and auction/award dates by country/territory and is available to GSA Members and GSA Associates subscribing to the GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices (GAMBoD) database. 

“5G mmWave spectrum offers large amounts of bandwidth to deliver far greater capacity, faster downloads and more subscribers, making it ideally suited for high data throughput applications such as video communications, video animations, data hungry applications such as virtual and augmented reality and the rapid deployment of Fixed Wireless Access,” commented Joe Barrett, GSA president. “The global interest among both regulators and mobile operators in licensing high band spectrum is being mirrored in a growing device ecosystem with more vendors and form factors now supporting bands above 24 Ghz. Despite the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing to see 5G spectrum auctions proceeding across all bands, with over 40 countries still planning spectrum auctions before the end of 2020.”

High band spectrum is suited to local area hot-spot coverage and supports 5G applications in places where high data throughput is required. High-band spectrum is also ideally suited to deployment in-building due to the band’s propagation characteristics. Lower power high-band spectrum can be efficiently deployed in-building to supplement Wi-Fi and provide seamless 5G coverage.  

GSA tracks the current status of Spectrum Auctions around the world. Its quarterly Spectrum Auction Calendar, last updated in June 2020, monitors the changing industry developments on spectrum release activities. 
 
GSA has a large and active Spectrum Group which is active in all regions and is aligned along ITU lines. The Spectrum Group is authoring reports on different spectrum areas from low- mid- and high-band frequencies.