Brit telecoms regulator Ofcom has kicked off a session over proposals that might see each cellular networks and Wi-Fi customers have entry to frequencies within the higher 6GHz band, if acceptable mechanisms will be agreed to make it work.
Based on Ofcom, the higher 6GHz band, protecting frequencies within the 6425-7125MHz vary, is presently “a spotlight for trade curiosity” within the lead as much as the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) held by the Worldwide Telecommunications Union (ITU) later this yr.
A lot of the exercise facilities on approaches that might see the frequencies given over to unique use both by high-power licensed cellular customers, or low-power licence-exempt makes use of resembling Wi-Fi, says Ofcom.
Nevertheless, the UK regulator reckons that with the rising demand for spectrum from a spread of recent and present companies, it’s changing into more durable to justify awarding bands for the unique use by a single software. It believes another method is feasible which might enable each cellular and Wi-Fi to make use of the higher 6GHz band, even when in comparatively shut proximity to one another.
Ofcom is proposing that hybrid sharing approaches might be adopted to allow a couple of software to make use of these frequency bands, and if profitable, the identical might be prolonged to different frequency bands now being thought of for future purposes, such because the 7-24GHz and THz ranges being floated for 6G networks.
A technique of doing this might be to benefit from the completely different utilization traits of cellular and Wi-Fi, Ofcom says in its session doc. For instance, Wi-Fi entry factors are usually deployed indoors, whereas cellular base stations are situated outside, so it might be attainable to help the indoor use of Wi-Fi within the higher 6GHz band whereas additionally permitting licensed cellular use of it outside.
Alternatively, a geographical sharing mannequin might be adopted, whereby cellular community use of the higher 6GHz band might be licensed for particular high-traffic places while permitting Wi-Fi use elsewhere.
However hybrid sharing would require using mechanisms to handle coexistence between the completely different applied sciences, which on this occasion means Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Ofcom units out a number of of those in its session doc, together with using managed databases to specify the place and when entry is allowed, and modifications to channel sensing mechanisms.
Within the latter case, Wi-Fi already makes use of channel sensing to detect if different nodes are transmitting, however has not been designed to detect cellular alerts. An enhancement of present protocols could enable for coexistence between Wi-Fi and cellular, Ofcom claims.
The UK regulator additionally notes that the higher 6GHz band is already getting used for different companies, resembling mounted wi-fi hyperlinks, and there’ll seemingly be coexistence challenges with these that must be addressed so as to help any hybrid sharing scheme.
Ofcom acknowledges that such mechanisms may also have to be supported in additional territories than simply the UK, saying in its doc that “worldwide harmonization is essential to create economies of scale” in a means that might be unlikely for UK-specific necessities.
Earlier this yr, cellular trade physique the GSMA published its personal report outlining how essential the 6GHz band is for the way forward for cellular communications. It stated on the time that governments world wide must “take into account fastidiously” what probably the most environment friendly use of 6GHz spectrum shall be, and even claimed that deployment of 5G within the higher 6GHz band could be essential for nations that need to “maximize the socio-economic advantages” delivered by cellular communications.
Nevertheless, that ship could have already sailed, because the Federal Communications Fee (FCC) within the US opened up your entire 6GHz band from 5.925 to 7.125GHz for unlicensed use again in 2020, largely pushed by calls for to make extra bandwidth obtainable for Wi-Fi. Ofcom adopted its lead by opening up the decrease 500MHz of the 6GHz band.
The FCC provides low-power Wi-Fi for indoor use the unrestricted freedom of your entire 6GHz band, whereas customary energy purposes that function outside should achieve this below the management of an automatic frequency coordination (AFC) system that manages spectrum entry to make sure they don’t intervene with legacy companies that also function within the 6GHz band.
Ofcom is searching for suggestions from “ stakeholders” on each the precept of hybrid sharing and on the practicalities of its implementation, and a kind is available from the regulator’s website to submit responses, which have to be delivered by 15 September.
The regulator stated it intends to observe up with an additional session in 2024 on particular proposals for the implementation of hybrid sharing within the higher 6GHz band. It will take the responses to this session into consideration, in addition to ongoing harmonization work with different related worldwide our bodies. ®