5G Spectrum: What It Is & Why It Matters

Wondering about the 5G Spectrum? We explain what it is, why it matters, and how organizations can use it.
Private Mobile Network Blog
5G LAN

What is the 5G Spectrum?

5G operates in multiple spectrum bands that include a range of frequencies divided into three bands (low, mid, and high). Each band has different capabilities: low band has greater coverage but somewhat lower speed, mid band offers a balance of both, and high band offers higher speed but smaller coverage radius.

Why 5G Is Different

5G services will support the speed, capacity, and latency demands of future technologies and services such as robotics and ubiquitous IoT services. Unlike previous generations of cellular wireless, 5G offers more than just an upgrade in speed. 5G NR (New Radio) offers improvements in OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing), allowing for increased scalability and efficiency.

The 5G spectrum provides a more unified interface to offer unmatched reliability for the wireless links between radios and client devices, and significantly higher speeds. These advancements will support new and robust methods of scaling deployments of new generation of digital initiatives across public and private networks, allowing businesses to deliver new services and communicate like never before.

5G Spectrum Capabilities

The spectrum in which 5G services operates is divided into three separate bands, each with its own use cases and capabilities. By using the full spectrum, businesses can optimize their traffic based on the environment and range of the transmission.

5G achieves its greatest speeds by operating on higher frequencies, using what is called the millimeter-wave band. Since higher frequencies have a shorter range, 5G uses a mix of frequency bands to operate at scale.

Low Band

Low-band 5G is designed to provide blanket long-distance coverage. This is the base layer of 5G that covers hundreds of square miles and operates within the 600–850MHz range. While the low band offers slower speeds compared to the mid and high band, it provides a superior range. Speeds within the low band fall between 50–250 Mbps, making it faster than most 4G connections. Long-distance transmissions and rural areas lacking infrastructure will benefit from low-band 5G access.

Mid Band

The mid band is designed to balance both speed and distance, making it suitable for towns, small cities, and suburban areas.The mid band uses the 2.5–4.2GHz portion of the 5G spectrum and can deliver practical speeds ranging from 100–900 Mbps for a single connected wireless client. Mid-band spectrum access will be the most popular across enterprises due to its flexibility and availability for private spectrum use.

High-Band

High-band 5G travels on the millimeter-wave spectrum at a frequency of 25–39GHz. Speeds in the high band are the fastest, reaching up to 3 Gbps. The trade-off is that the range is limited—about 1,500feet from the small cell tower. The good news is that highly dense cities use the high band to serve their large populations.

LTE vs. 5G Spectrum

While 5G outperforms LTE across the board, 5G shares frequency space with LTE. It can be used to allocate bands for both LTE-and 5G-use dynamically. Network operators can use frequency-division duplexing and time-division duplexing to share frequencies between the two technologies without causing interference.

5G Spectrum in the Enterprise

Mobile operators have been quick to participate in 5G-spectrum access. The FCC holds periodic auctions enabling companies to bid on portions of the low-, mid-, and high-band 5G spectrums. This presents numerous opportunities for both consumers and businesses to use private 5G and promote its use ubiquitously.

Enterprises can use the 5G spectrum to deploy their own high-speed low-latency services. For the first time, businesses can launch their own private 5G networks with private spectrum options, such as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band in the United States. With 5G LAN solutions that take advantage of the CBRS band, enterprises can take control over their data and free themselves from relying on commercial infrastructure utilizing public spectrum with expensive contracts charged per device.

Services operate using the CBRS spectrum via a tiered system available on a 150MHz-wide spectrum that spans from 3.55GHz to3.7GHz. Previously reserved for the Navy, the FCC has opened a portion of the spectrum for private use creating business opportunities similar to the early days of the internet, where businesses build products and services using this new technology. 

The FCC protects this mid-band spectrum with tiered access and radio-monitoring technology. The CBRS is divided into three separate sections: Incumbents, Priority Access License (PAL), and GeneralAvailability Access (GAA).

Businesses can access the CBRS spectrum band with licensed access to Spectrum Access System (SAS) service and build and operate their own 5G network independent of commercial carriers. Using FCC-approved hardware, enterprises can build 5G networks provide blanket coverage to enterprise facilities, warehouses, higher education campuses, and more.

With private spectrum options such as CBRS in the US, mobile services can be deployed without interfering with existing technology like Wi-Fi. This flexibility makes it easy to rollout digital initiatives on their own dedicated express lane of wireless connectivity and enable private 5G wireless for applications that demand interference free connectivity, strict service level agreement (SLA) requirements and service uptime.

5G Spectrum Use Cases

For some industries, 5G-spectrum access will change the way they do business. Let’s look at a few industries that can benefit the most from private 5G.

Supply Chain

The convergence of automation, digital transformation and a rise in demand for e-commerce is fueling more opportunities for you to capitalize on for enterprises that are part of the supply chain industry – from manufacturing to transportation to warehousing.And, many are looking at private wireless connectivity with service level agreements (SLA), strong indoor and outdoor coverage characteristics in challenging environments and interference free operation as essential ingredients.

Highly reliable private mobile network connectivity, at a fraction of the cost of alternative solutions and customized to guarantee throughput, latency and packet error rate on critical applications and devices is exactly what’s on the horizon in the future of supply chain technologies.  
Healthcare

Low latency guarantees combined with increased coverage area per radio will allow hospitals to improve staff, nurse and doctor productivity. Through private cellular capable mobile devices, doctors can stay connected without worrying about nearby network interference or Wi-Fi network congestion. IoT sensors that are static in nature can take advantage of modems and gateways to translate Ethernet connectivity to private cellular wireless to reduce the time and cost it takes to enable new digital initiatives via latest generation of medical equipment.

Manufacturing

Private 5G can provide reliable connectivity to automated mobile robots, machinery in the production line and enable collection of real-time insights into the performance of several factory floor operations. Transformative private 5G connectivity promises to accelerate data-driven decision making for process control across the production line – while existing Wi-Fi and public cellular connectivity can be reserved for day to day operations and high density employee BYOD connectivity.

The Celona Solution

Celona partners with enterprise organizations as they plan, build, and maintain their own private 5G infrastructure – thanks to its industry first integrated 5G LAN solution.

Celona’s software architecture allows for private 5G technology installation an out-of-box experience in enterprise environments. Implementation of Celona’s 5G LAN can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.

If you’re building your network for the future, Celona can help. Check out our network planner to estimate the size of your private mobile network, or test-drive the Celona 5G LAN solution after applying for a free trial.

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