The 700Mhz 5g band and why telcos are chasing it

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The 700Mhz 5g band and why telcos are chasing it
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700 MHz is among the lower 5G bands, while 4G frequencies are usually between 700 and 2,500 megahertz (MHz). High frequency bands offer higher speeds but are limited by a smaller coverage area. Conversely, low frequency bands offer relatively slower speeds but a wider coverage area, ideal for a country like India. And for this reason, 700 MHz is considered a premium band.

The mega 5G auction which started on July 26 saw the four players Reliance Jio, Adani Group, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea – bidding for the right to offer 5G service in frequency bands for 20 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would launch 5G services in India during the inauguration of the Indian Mobile Congress in Delhi on Saturday morning.

Let’s take a look at the big surprise of this auction – the surprisingly high demand for 700 megahertz (MHz) spectrum.

The auction took place in the low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), medium (3300 MHz) and high (26 GHz) frequency bands, most offerings focused on the mid, high and 700 MHz bands.

What are these different groups?

Basically, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile connectivity and follows the first generation (GPRS), second generation (EDGE), third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G or LTE). Currently, most countries in the world, including ours, are still on 4G; some have already upgraded to 5G, while others are close to doing so.

High frequency bands offer higher speeds but are limited by a smaller coverage area. Conversely, low frequency bands offer relatively slower speeds but a much wider coverage area, ideal for a country like India.

For this reason alone, 700 MHz is considered a premium band, with a higher price – the reason why it was not auctioned in 2021 and 2016. According to chipset manufacturer Qualcomm, 700 MHz can reach more 300 Mbps download speed under test conditions.

Even so, several observers were surprised that the 700 MHz played so much during the auction. To put that into perspective, 700 MHz is among the lowest frequency 5G bands, while 4G frequencies are typically between 700 and 2500 MHz.

Nitin Soni, Senior Director at Fitch Ratings, said: “So there’s a lot of activity on 700MHz, which is a little surprising. We thought most of the activity would be on C-band, which is 3 GHz. , and also on the 26 GHz band. But I think because telecom operators are also incentivized to reduce their spectrum usage fees, activity is much higher in the 700 MHz band .

The highest band offered, the 26 GHz frequency, offers speeds over 1 Gbps but is limited to a coverage area of ​​a few kilometers, and even trees have been known to disrupt coverage.

But if what Soni says is true, and most telecom providers go for the 700MHz band, we’ll essentially get a slightly faster version of 4G. But the 700 MHz band helps service providers build a cost-effective 5G network because the lower frequency leads to wider coverage, and it also has the benefit of a high disturbance threshold – it can penetrate buildings while , as shown above, higher frequencies are scrambled by a few trees in their coverage area.

However, regardless of when 5G services are rolled out, Soni estimates it could take up to a few years for wider adoption. “During the first few years, the business of 5G use cases will evolve. In the beginning, there will be applications that will need 5G speed. India,” he said.

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