International Development of 5G
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).
Global Allocation of 5G Spectrum
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.
At the World Radiocommunication Conference held in November 2019, the ITU has decided the following global allocation of 5G spectrum in the high frequency bands above 24 GHz.
- 24.25 - 27.5 GHz (some of the spectrum assigned to 5G services in Hong Kong)
- 37.0 - 43.5 GHz
- 66.0 – 71.0 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 was completed in July 2020.
Equipment and Devices
Different kinds of 5G mobile devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, notebook computers and portable wireless routers) are now commercially available in the market. In addition, special wearable smart devices or products supporting a variety of 5G applications such as 5G-based AR glasses and helmet camera with 5G connection capability have also emerged in the market.