In the fight expected from operators for the acquisition of frequencies dedicated to 5G, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts is preparing to open a new front. Indeed, last weekend Arcep reported that it had set 31 December 2022 as the maximum deadline for frequencies in the 1.5 GHz band, known as the L band.
"Today used for point-to-point links for the collection of mobile networks open to the public and professionals and by the Ministries of the Interior and Defence", its release by the end of 2022 should allow mobile operators to have more frequencies to deploy future 5G and Very High Speed networks.
"The 1.5 GHz band has been subject to European harmonisation since 2015. It has 90 MHz that can be used to meet downlink requirements. The propagation properties of these frequencies are particularly interesting for the coverage of the territory and the coverage inside buildings", said the Telecom Constable.
However, there could be many pitfalls.... Indeed, the current tenants of the band have already sent comments to the Authority during the consultation period: a disputed reallocation plan, potentially huge migration costs.
However, the decision is widely welcomed by operators who are pleased to be able to obtain new frequency blocks for the development of their future 5G networks. While the latter accept that this L-band will only be operated "for additional exclusively downlink links (in SDL mode)", it will still improve the throughput and capacity of downlinks below 1 GHz.
The spectrum available for the deployment of future 5G networks is relatively limited, so this release should be of significant interest to operators, particularly in the event of coupling with other frequency bands.
Operators are also unanimous that the entire band will not be able to operate effectively due to unfavourable neighbourhood conditions. On its adjacent bands, there are "space exploration satellite services, radio astronomy and space research services", which do not allow the use of both ends of the 1.5 GHz band. Orange has only one 85 MHz band that can be used, while Free goes further with only one 40 MHz band. For the operator, this block of frequencies constitutes "the only sub-band with a mature ecosystem today" and could even be the subject of an "immediate allocation scenario" via a reallocation of 10 MHz bands to each operator.
A scenario that will not be retained by Arcep but which illustrates the operators' appetite for this band, to the great displeasure of its current tenants. They should be required to be housed elsewhere, particularly in the 6 GHz band.
Most of these actors are industrialists and express doubts about the Arcep's decision and its implications for their own activities and finances. Questions about the economic viability of this migration on the part of EDF, for example, for whom "the estimated time required to replace 1.4 GHz links, without significantly impacting the company's performance, is around ten years".
Especially since the timetable imposed by the telecoms police officer is already causing the actors concerned to shudder. For Enedis, the deadlines proposed jointly by Brussels and Arcep "do not take into account this specific framework for the use of the 1.4 GHz band by Enedis, nor the current limits or the constraints imposed by the alternative solutions". And even one of the alternatives proposed by Arcep would involve the reconstruction of a large part of its network.
The public authorities also seem to be waiting, as does the Ministry of Transport, for whom the timetable mentioned cannot be kept. Hence the Ministry's request to maintain the current network "at least until 2027, knowing that if studies show that it is possible to have the future network available earlier, the network can be shut down before that date".
Current tenants propose other solutions such as the establishment of a "cohabitation context". This would allow L-band frequencies to be allocated to operators in dense urban areas and other actors to "continue to use Radio Beams in rural areas, which are less likely to be targeted by the need for SDL".
Source : ZDNet