Beyond the U.S., mmWave 5G auctions coming up in key mobile markets
While U.S. operators AT&T and Verizon went to market with millimeter wave-based mobile and fixed 5G services, most other operators used mid-band spectrum in the 3.4 GHz to 3.6 GHz range, providing an advantageous balance of coverage and capacity. But, with initial launches on the books and operators investing in scale and capabilities, mmWave 5G services are in the works around the world.
The European Union’s 5G Observatory provides a comprehensive look at relevant activity among the 27 member states and produces a quarterly report tracking 5G in the EU. The latest report, published in April, recaps planned mmWave assignments:
- Cyprus pushed award of 26 GHz from November 2019 to May
- Denmark could award 26 GHz licenses in the third quarter
- Finland plans to allocate 26 GHz this year
- France plans to award 26 GHz this year
- Latvia is expected to award 26 GHz in fall or winter this year
- Lithuania is expected to award mmWave licenses October
- Luxembourg is expected to move in the first half of this year
- Malta is expected to take action before 2021
- Spain delayed its award process until later this year
In Asia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are all expected to adopt mmWave 5G in the near-term.
On a quarterly earnings call this week, Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon provided some commentary on mmWave 5G, “For example, in United States, some carriers are actually ahead of schedule and to build out, taking advantage of probably less traffic. And important to note that Japan had launched both 5G, sub-6 and millimeter wave within the quarter, and Korea Telecom announced millimeter wave in Korea before the end of 2020. So, you may have some puts and takes, but in general, I think the 5G story remain intact. And if anything, this current environment probably underscore the importance of connectivity in telecom.”
Qualcomm was instrumental in building appropriately-sized mmWave antenna modules which have since been used in a number of flagship devices launches. Looking ahead, the company is investigating further mmWave developments such as integrated access and backhaul (IAB), multi-TRP to help overcome signal blocking, power-saving features and enhanced mobility. Read more about that here.