International Development of 5G
Global Allocation of
The International Telecommunication Union (“ITU”), a specialised agency responsible for issues concerning information and communications technologies under the United Nations, has defined three key usage scenarios for IMT-2020 or the fifth generation (5G) mobile services as set out below based on their characteristics:
enhanced Mobile Broadband
Supporting very high data download speed up to 20 Gbps*Learn more
massive Machine Type Communications
Supporting communication of up to 1 million machine-type devices within 1 km2Learn more
Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communications
Supporting mission critical applications and low latency communications with delay as low as 1 msLearn more
* Note: The ITU has set the targeted download speed for eMBB under ideal circumstances at 20 Gbps. However, the actual data download speed will be affected by various factors (including but not limited to the number of subscribers, user devices, network coverage, frequency bands and amount of spectrum used, network settings, quality of radio transmission and network traffic).
11 Candidate Frequency Bands
to be Considered by the ITU
According to the 2019-2021 Spectrum Release Plan, the CA has proposed to allocate and/or has assigned the following frequency bands for public mobile (including 5G) services in Hong Kong:
- 24250 - 27500 MHz (26 GHz);
- 27500 - 28350 MHz (28 GHz);
- 3300 - 3400 MHz (3.3 GHz) (for indoor use only);
- 3400 - 3600 MHz (3.5 GHz);
- 4830 - 4930 MHz (4.9 GHz); and
- 617 - 698/703 - 803 MHz (600/700 MHz).
Apart from the 600/700 MHz bands which will be available for allocation to public mobile (including 5G) services after the switch-off of analogue television services at the end of 2020, the CA is in the process of releasing the spectrum in the 26/28 GHz, 3.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands to the market by phases in 2019.
In addition, the ITU has already designated a number of low frequency bands below 6 GHz (including the frequency bands currently used for the provision of 2G/3G/4G services in Hong Kong) for public mobile services. These frequency bands can be re-farmed for the deployment of 5G services. The ITU will convene the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) in October/November 2019 to further decide on the global allocation of 5G spectrum in the high frequency bands above 24 GHz. The following are the 11 candidate 5G frequency bands to be considered at WRC-19:
- 24.25 - 27.50 GHz
- 31.8 - 33.4 GHz
- 37.0 - 40.5 GHz
- 40.5 - 42.5 GHz
- 42.5 - 43.5 GHz
- 45.5 - 47.0 GHz
- 47.0 - 47.2 GHz
- 47.2 - 50.2 GHz
- 50.4 - 52.6 GHz
- 66.0 - 76.0 GHz
- 81.0 - 86.0 GHz
The Third Generation Partnership Project (“3GPP”)
- An industry-led international standardisation organisation which specialises in the development and implementation of the technical standards of global 3G, 4G and 5G mobile communication systems.
- It undertakes to develop new 5G international standards based on ITU’s defined requirements.
- Members of 3GPP include standardisation bodies of Europe, Japan, Mainland China, Korea and North America.
3GPP divides 5G standardisation into Phase 1 and Phase 2 and the corresponding standards are Release 15 and Release 16 respectively:
- Release 15 covers predominantly eMBB. The standards for network were completed in June 2018.
- Release 16 is a set of standards covering all the three key usage scenarios. The complete set of standards is expected to be completed in 2020.
Equipment and Devices
Mobile network equipment suppliers have been partnering with MNOs in the globe to conduct intensive 5G trials.
5G mobile devices (e.g. smartphones, smart watches, tablets, computers and other customer equipment) have been launched in mid-2019.
Diversification of mobile devices evolving from predominantly smartphones to various types of wearable smart devices is expected.