The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) in Egypt bowed out with the, not entirely unexpected, news that delegates had identified additional radio-frequency bands for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), which will facilitate the development of 5G mobile networks.
In total, 17.25 GHz of spectrum was identified for IMT (the generic term used by the ITU community to designate broadband mobile systems) by the Conference, in comparison with 1.9 GHz of bandwidth available before WRC-19. Out of this number, 14.75 GHz of spectrum has been harmonized worldwide, reaching 85 percent of global harmonization.
In addition, WRC-19 has also defined a plan of studies to identify frequencies for new components of 5G.
IMT-2020, the name used in ITU for the standards of 5G, is expected to continue to be developed from 2020 onwards, with 5G trials and commercial activities already underway to assist in evaluating the candidate technologies and frequency bands that may be used for this purpose.
The first full-scale commercial deployments for 5G are expected sometime after IMT-2020 specifications are in force.
ITU says it will continue to work towards providing stable international regulations, sufficient spectrum and suitable standards for IMT-2020 and the core network to enable successful 5G deployments at the regional and international levels.
The response seems to have been positive so far, with trade organisations GSMA (the trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide) and GVF (the global non-profit association of the satellite industry) in particular welcoming the international spectrum treaty, which, it is argued, opens up possibilities for 5G while protecting existing radio services worldwide.
But things won’t stop there. The agenda for the next WRC in 2023 includes identification of additional mid- and low-frequency bands. As new applications arrive requiring new spectrum, no doubt organisations representing operators in many wireless fields will be counting down to the next WRC meeting – and lobbying to get their voices heard as they do.