YOU ARE AT:5GAccess to more spectrum means more economic and national security

Access to more spectrum means more economic and national security

In addition to advanced wireless R&D, Qualcomm is working to ensure adequate spectrum is made available for the future of 5G-Advanced and 6G

The technical standardization work on 5G-Advanced is well underway, and the work on 6G is hitting a major ramp. Assuming a 10-year generational upgrade cycle, 6G will be something of a commercial reality by 2030 if not earlier. But the breadth, scale and quality of those initial deployments, and the deployments that follow, will hinge in part on access to more spectrum. A lot more. 

Reflecting on the big picture, as well as recent movements out of the World Radio Conference (WRC-23) and the Biden Administration’s National Spectrum Strategy (NSS), along with the company’s own technical research and development and standardization inputs, Qualcomm Vice President of Spectrum Policy and Regulatory Council John Kuzin told RCR Wireless News he’s “cautiously optimistic” that technology and access to spectrum will align to support commercial 6G roll out in the 2030 timeframe. 

During an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Kuzin said he is tracking a number of near-term priorities, “and they all need to kind of happen at the same time.” A major focus area for 6G is access to the upper mid-band from 7 GHz to 16 GHz, and the 400 megahertz to 500 megahertz channel widths within those bands seen as needed for 6G capacity demands. 

WRC-23, hosted by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union in November and December last year, identified a portion of the upper mid-band, from 7.1 GHz to 8.4 GHz, as a future candidate band for 6G mobile services. Kuzin said that chunk of spectrum is “going to be the prime band” for 6G, and it “will be critically important because the RF propagation in that range will allow deployments to re-use the same base stations that are being used for lower-band deployments and provide the same level of coverage.” 

He said that some of Qualcomm’s research work on both modem-RF systems and network infrastructure will help facilitate deployment of the 7.1 GHz to 8.4 GHz band in the future. Kuzin also noted that 6G will come with channel widths in the 400 megahertz to 500 megahertz range; compare that to 100 megahertz channels for 5G and 20 megahertz channels for 4G. “It’s going to be super challenging to open that amount of spectrum…in this range,” he said. But, “I think that is going to be needed to support the expected capacity demands for advanced technologies such as AR/VR glasses, things of that nature.” 

Calling out that currently deployed spectrum, including sub-7 GHz and mmWave, as well as candidate 6G bands will all have a part to play in the next generation of cellular, Kuzin stressed the importance of working “on all of these in parallel. With 6G in particular, and that spectrum band, there’s going to be an awful lot of challenges to open up the band because there are important federal incumbents that will need to either protect or potentially compartmentalize in less of the band to open up the band for mobile deployments.” 

Another facet of current spectrum priorities is the Biden Administration’s National Spectrum Strategy (NSS), a National Telecommunications and Information Administration-led plan to “promote private-sector innovation and further the missions of federal departments and agencies…”  Kuzin called out that, again, the NSS includes a focus on 7.1 GHz to 8.4 GHz, provisions for unmanned aerial system connectivity in 1530 MHz to 1590 MHz, and sharing the lower 37 GHz band with federal incumbents.

The big picture here, he said, is that 5G-Advanced and 6G will be rolled out, although, “There’s no greenfield spectrum…The reason why we started two years ago is we knew the bands we were targeting for 6G were occupied…Thus far, things are moving. We’re going to need things to pick up. We’re going to need more collaboration. We’re going to need more openness and honesty. I think we can get there because I think we have to get there.” 

Strong national security is tied to economic security, Kuzin said. “To continue to have economic growth in the US, it’s critically important that 5G continue to roll out, 5G-Advanced roll out and 6G roll out. Our information economy is based on the opening up of additional spectrum bands.” 

For more on Qualcomm’s advanced wireless R&D, read the following: