June 14th, 2024 | 5:08


5G agreement of large operators improves spectral efficiency in rural areas

Maria Jose Gonzalez

May 18, 2024 | 5:00 p.m.

The three main mobile telephone operators in Spain, Movistar, Vodafone and Orange, have proposed grouping their frequencies in the 700 MHz band to improve spectral efficiency and provide higher speeds in municipalities with less than 10.000 inhabitants. This agreement, reported by the newspaper Expansión, marks a milestone in the collaboration between the spectrum holders of 28G band n5, located at 700 MHz.

Improving 5G Coverage in Rural Areas

The main objective of this initiative is to share frequencies in rural areas to optimize the use of the spectrum and improve connectivity. The Unique 5G Redes Activas program subsidizes electronic equipment and antenna panels that provide 5G+ coverage with at least 100 Mbps speed in towns with less than 10.000 inhabitants. This program complements other efforts such as Único 5G Redes, which subsidizes passive infrastructure, and Único 5G Redes Backhaul, which pays for the replacement of radio links with fiber.

Auction and Assignment of the 700 MHz Band

In 2021, the 700 MHz band was auctioned and assigned to Movistar, Vodafone and Orange, each receiving two blocks (upstream and downstream) of 10 MHz width. Although the number of megahertz is limited compared to other 5G bands, the spread of these frequencies is superior, making it the most available 5G band. However, the total capacity of this band is approximately 150 Mbps, which may be insufficient to provide 100 Mbps speeds to all users in large areas.

Agreement Details and Benefits

The Unique 5G Redes Activas program will distribute 544 million euros in subsidies, the highest figure awarded to date for the deployment of telecommunications networks. It is expected that this financing will allow the construction of 10.000 sites with 90% of their cost covered. A key requirement is that these sites provide true speeds of 100 Mbps, a challenge with the current 2x10MHz available to each operator.

To overcome this limitation, The three companies have agreed to give each other their frequencies in the proposals for the contest. As they are adjacent blocks, the operator responsible for the site will be able to use up to 30 MHz for the upstream channel and another 30 MHz for the downstream channel, increasing the total capacity to around 500 Mbps. This strategy optimizes the use of the spectrum, since a A carrier of this size offers greater throughput than three independent networks using 10 MHz each.

Roaming and Network Slicing

Although the details of the agreement have not been fully disclosed, The transfer of frequencies will imply that the operator responsible for the site provides roaming to the other participating operators. This will be achieved through 5G network slicing technology, which allows a physical network to be divided into multiple virtual networks, thus guaranteeing benefits for customers of all operators.

More news