29 Nov 2023
by Evangelia Tzifa

WRC Series: Inputs on challenges and opportunities around key topics on the WRC-23

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The aim of this document is to provide Ericsson inputs on challenges and opportunities around key topics on the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23). We can identify three areas of interest: (a) IMT Identification for Upper 6GHz, (b) 6G Spectrum and, (c) Primary mobile allocation of 470-694 MHz.

       1. IMT Identification for Upper 6GHz

Mid-bands spectrum is currently being used in more than 260 5G Networks providing 5G commercial services in many countries. Governments around the world recognize the importance of mobile services provided by 5G and its evolution as an essential element in the digital transformation of their countries.

Indeed, 5G is a key pillar for digital transformation, providing reliable, secure, high capacity, low latency, and wide-area connectivity to consumers and industries. Midband frequencies are essential in the rollout of 5G with the 3.5 GHz band being deployed as the launchpad for 5G networks worldwide.  Midbands are tailor made for 5G with high capacity providing cost effective network coverage both indoor and outdoor. 

Traffic growth trends indicate that additional midband spectrum will be required beyond 2025. This will address increased urban connectivity demand as well as FWA deployments.  The upper 6 GHz band is a crucial capacity resource for the future development of mobile networks reaching similar performance to 3.5 GHz spectrum.  

Ericsson views the upper 6 GHz band as the only opportunity in the midband range in which 5G mobile networks can continue to grow in Europe and UK. It is expected to serve outdoor and indoor users in an integrated fashion, as opposed to relying on a patchwork of disaggregated and largely unrelated solutions.  To reflect the importance of this band, there is large support from mobile operators, including GSMA and ETNO.  Licensed Spectrum for Mobile networks is fundamental to build a robust foundation for industry and consumers, examples include smart cities, industry 4.0, and connected transport. Midband 5G NR is a fundamental pillar for the digitalisation of a wide range of verticals.

World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) offers the unique opportunity to identify a harmonised, contiguous 700 MHz portion of mid-bands spectrum to support the evolution of 5G. This is through Agenda Item 1.2 which considers the range 6425-7125 MHz for IMT identification. WRC is also a key occasion to ensure protection of existing primary systems. This is, in particular, important for services of international nature, i.e., satellite. Technical conditions should enable wide area 5G services while providing appropriate protection to incumbent services.



       2. 6G Spectrum

The next generation of mobile wireless communication, 6G, is rapidly becoming a hot topic of discussion within the ICT industry. The availability of sufficient spectrum in a timely manner is essential for the success of 6G. Considering the first commercial deployments of 6G, which are planned for 2030, and the time-consuming process for licensing spectrum, activities toward ensuring spectrum availability for 6G need to be initiated as soon as possible.

By 2030, 5G will have already been shaping both industry and society for 10 years. New applications and services will have appeared, and lessons will have been learned from 5G deployment. 5G is a revolutionary technology, which enables machines to communicate with each other and with people, and a continued revolution with 6G is expected, bringing the digital and physical worlds together.

To meet these future challenges, 6G needs to continue to push beyond the technical limits of 5G, moving toward immersive communication, and the omnipresent Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, entirely new capability dimensions should be explored integrating compute services and offering functionality beyond communication such as spatial and timing data.

Additional spectrum from within the centimetric range, 7–15 GHz range, is necessary to realize the capacity-demanding use cases in future 6G networks and is key to enabling mobility for many of these use cases. In fact, mobility and coverage restrictions would deprive such use cases of their full potential and value to society. From a coverage point of view, the lower the frequency bands within this range, the larger the coverage and the larger re-use of existing grids.

The characteristics of such use cases imply that the existing mid-band spectrum will be insufficient to meet capacity needs. In fact, 1.5-2.2 GHz of additional spectrum is necessary in this range, depending on the availability of mid-bands in different markets by 2030.

It is recommended that the work for obtaining spectrum within the centimetric frequency range is carried out within ITU-R, aiming for an IMT identification from the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2027, to provide the advantages of spectrum harmonization.



       3. UHF Spectrum

Sub 1 GHz spectrum remains critical to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas and bring digital equality, via mobile and FWA, as well as including rural roads. This spectrum is also important to digitalize rural areas with smart agriculture and to bring 5G to deep indoors environment.

Sub 700 MHz (470-694 MHz) has historically been used by broadcasting, however, technology evolution has made this service to decline globally although at different speeds depending on the market. As a result, some countries have already allocated spectrum within 617-694 MHz to mobile operators. Another example is Europe, which has included “Assessment of future usage of the frequency band 470-694 MHz within the EU” as part of the RSPG  Work Programme for 2024 and beyond.

WRC-23 will discuss the primary mobile allocation of this band (470-694 MHz) for Region 1, which would enable flexibility to countries to use the band for either mobile or broadcasting, as per national needs.


About Ericsson. 

Ericsson is one of the leading providers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to service providers. We enable the full value of connectivity by creating game-changing technology and services that are easy to use, adopt, and scale, making our customers successful in a fully connected world. Our comprehensive portfolio ranges across Networks, Digital Services, Managed Services and Emerging Business; powered by 5G and IoT platforms. 

The outcomes from WRC-23 and prospectus for WRC-27 will be a key topic for the flagship UK SPF Future Spectrum Summit. Be part of the conversation and register here.

To find out more about our WRC 2023 Series, click here. If you would like to contribute, please reach out to [email protected].


Evangelia Tzifa

Head of Networks Presales UK & Ireland, Ericsson