5G frequencies Der Artikel auf der deutschen Website
Which frequencies and bands does 5G use?
The volume of data generated worldwide in mobile radio networks has been growing steadily for years, sometimes by 50 percent per annum. Significantly fueled by the use of mobile video streaming services. Experts expect 4 billion networked end devices  by 2023 - keyword Internet of Things (IoT). In order to cope with this swelling flood of traffic, mobile phone providers around the world are placing enormous hopes in the LTE successor " 5G ". However, as with 4G / LTE , you primarily need free bands to operate radio networks. However, these are always in short supply globally. We show which frequency ranges are already being used for 5G and which are available according to current planning .
1. What German consumers need to know
Before we deal in detail with all questions about the individual frequency ranges and their advantages and disadvantages, the question of range, as well as the individual division of the bands for all mobile network providers, we would first like to briefly present the most important information for German 5G customers in a graphic. What do you have to consider when buying a new 5G smartphone or router and which bands must be supported now and in the future?
The currently most important band is "n78" (at 3.6 GHz). All four German 5G providers will be radio here in the long term. N78 is primarily used to supply the cities. N1 (2.1 GHz), on the other hand, is being promoted primarily by Deutsche Telekom for the expansion of the area. Vodafone, on the other hand, relies on n28 (700 MHz) and n3 (1.8 GHz) for rural expansion. However, n1 / n3 and n28 are only used as anchor frequencies by means of dynamic spectrum sharing in combination with LTE. You will find out what all of this means in concrete terms later in this guide. O2 initially only operated 5G at 3.6 GHz, but has also been expanding it to 700 MHz and 1800 MHz since mid-2021.
2. An overview of all 5G bands and the associated frequencies
Unfortunately, consumers who want to buy a new 5G smartphone or a corresponding router are confronted with somewhat cryptic-looking information. Because the 5G frequencies supported by the device are usually given with the shortened band name, such as "n78".
Similar to LTE, the 5G bands are also defined by name. Band 20 is an example of the operation of 4G at 800 MHz. Since 5G Release 15 (via RAN4), the industry has provided a slightly different nomenclature. Instead of "Band XY", the designation is " n xxx ". For the frequency range below 6 GHz (FR1), values from 1 to 255 values are possible in principle. In the millimeter wave segment (FR2), the values only start from 256 for better differentiation. The already mentioned n78 5G band represents the important usage range around 3.6 GHz in Germany.
The following table lists the most important bands according to FR1 worldwide. The frequency range for download and upload rates as well as the intended duplex mode are recorded. Experts can also find information on the maximum channel bandwidth and the duplex spacing.
5G frequencies in the FR2 range:
TDD = Time Divided Duplex | FDD = Frequency Divided Duplex
n / a not available / planned
Source: 3GPP 
3. Radio spectrum in short supply
In this country, areas at 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz are currently mainly used for 4G mobile radio technology. Every mobile phone provider, i.e. Deutsche Telekom, O2 and Vodafone, has bought several spectral ranges for the operation of LTE at two auctions in recent years. In the 800 MHz segment, for example, Telekom can use the 811-821 MHz range for the downstream and 852-862 MHz for the upstream. A band with a width of 10 MHz each is available. In simplified terms, this bandwidth can be imagined as a data superhighway. The wider, the more information can be transmitted per unit of time.
However, since mobile communications have to share the limited electromagnetic spectrum with other technologies, free frequencies are scarce. Examples are terrestrial television DVBT-2 (including 470 MHz to 690 MHz) and police radio (including 406.1 to 410 MHz). In total, German mobile operators alone paid almost 10 billion euros in license fees in 2010 (4.4 billion) and 2015 (5 billion). For 5G, however, new "data superhighways" were needed, especially for targeted top speeds of 10-20 GBit. In 2019, the Federal Network Agency auctioned the first operating licenses for 5G.
4. Results of the first 5G auction
The auction of the first 5G resources again flushed 6.6 billion euros into the state coffers in June 2019 . But as we shall see in a moment, this is far from being enough ...
Vodafone (1.88 billion) and Deutsche Telekom (2.175 billion) each invested the lion's share. Newcomer 1und1 Drillisch entered the provider business from scratch with a good 1.07 billion. O2 put 1.425 billion on the table to secure its share of the future of mobile communications.
5. Distribution of the auctioned 5G frequencies
Currently and in the near future, three frequency ranges are mainly used for 5G operation in this country. First the bands originally auctioned for this at 2.1 and 3.6 GHz, as well as in the 700 MHz segment. There, however, mainly in the form of a kind of "coop mode" called "Dynamic Spectrum Sharing". But more on that later under point 8! In the following, we have graphically mapped the distribution of frequencies for you, depending on the provider.
5.1 Allocation at 3.6 GHz per 5G provider
The 3.6 GHz segments (also known as band n78) were among the most popular at the first 5G auction in Germany. These are primarily intended for the 5G expansion in cities, as the range is relatively small (less than 500 meters). Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone secured most of the cake with 90 MHz bandwidth each. O2 can have 70 MHz and newcomer 1 & 1 auctioned 50 MHz. And this is how the 3.6 GHz usable frequencies are precisely distributed in the spectrum:
5.2 Allocation at 2.1 GHz
At the auction, resources in the 2 GHz range were also auctioned off. Deutsche Telekom in particular is toying with the 5G band n1. However, these are currently not available as 3G (UMTS) is still broadcasting here. Bit by bit, however, these will be cleared over the next few months. From 2021, Vodafone, O2 and Telekom can use the first areas for the 5G expansion here. 3G is being dismantled and gradually switched off completely by 2022 at the latest.
5.3 Use at 700 MHz
In rural catchment areas, 4G was expanded primarily to the high-reach 800 MHz frequencies. From the 2nd digital dividend there are still resources available at 700 MHz. Terrestrial television (DVB-T) was once broadcast on these bands. The successor DVB-T2 has moved to lower areas so that these are now available for mobile communications. The following graphic shows the breakdown by provider. Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and O2 each have 2 x 10 MHz. The original aim was to further optimize the LTE expansion in rural areas and accelerate the data rates. In May 2020 , however, Vodafone announced that it would also use these frequencies to bring 5G into the area. This is made possible by a technology called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)
, where 5G and 4G share the same bands together. A prerequisite, however, is an " anchor frequency " via LTE, which acts as a link to the core network. If only 5G is operated at 700 MHz, the appropriate 5G antenna modules would first have to be installed on each mast. Thanks to DSS, this works relatively easily via a software update of the mobile radio station.
With this trick, Deutsche Telekom was able to expand its 5G availability from 0 to 80 percent in just 1.5 years. Vodafone also wants to open up large parts of Germany with the latest mobile technology and bring high transmission rates to every corner with special wireless home tariffs .
5.4 What are anchor frequencies?
Unfortunately, it gets a little more confusing. Because there is to a certain extent "real" 5G and a kind of pseudo 5G. The latter clearly still dominates at the moment. An LTE frequency is still required as an anchor. Experts also speak of 5G non-standalone networks . Only 5G standalone can do without its predecessor 4G. For example, Deutsche Telekom uses LTE at 1800 and 2600 MHz as an anchor for operating 5G NSA at 3.6 GHz. 5G SA has been rolled out gradually since mid-2021. It could well be until 2030 until all infrastructures are based on it.
6. Area vs. performance
Not every frequency section is equally suitable for every expansion scenario. For physical reasons, only long-wave areas are suitable for coverage in the area. So bands at lower frequencies. For the 5G expansion in rural areas, for example, the previously rarely used 700 MHz can be considered. In the course of the LTE expansion, the focus was primarily on 800 MHz from the digital dividend. It is true that there are no very broad ranges available, so that the achievable data rates are rather low. Outside of the cities, however, it is less the performance that plays a decisive role than the aspect of coverage.
With increasing frequency, however, the range decreases. In return, these radio areas offer more free bandwidth and thus the achievable data transmission rate also increases. In any case, high-performance 5G networks with 10 or 20 GBit could only be managed with channel bandwidths of 100 MHz or higher. The only bands that are suitable for this, however, are in the range of over 24 GHz - the so-called millimeter waves, or mmWave for short . Such frequency ranges would also require extremely close-meshed networks of radio cells, which can only be implemented in urban areas. Here we are talking about a few hundred meters, so that mini radio masts, for example on street lamps, would be necessary. Corresponding plans already exist. There is therefore always a trade -off between range (coverage) and speed .
Therefore, experts first differentiate roughly into three so-called " layers ". The multi-layer approach divides all usage scenarios and needs according to the parameters of coverage and performance . For the sake of clarity, we have dedicated an extra special to the multi-layer approach for 5G networks ...
7. Wanted usable frequencies for 5G: “Low” and “High” 5G bands
As already shown in the introduction, there tends to be a lack of possible operational resources for a new mobile radio standard. Since most of the bands in question are already occupied in the “lower” frequency range (e.g. for LTE), there are three options . (1) On the one hand, areas that are no longer required for 5G operation can be released or rescheduled. First and foremost, the outdated 2G (EDGE, GSM) or 3G (UMTS) should be mentioned here.
In May 2020, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2 announced their dates for the discontinuation of 3G. Vodafone started first and will leave 3G behind with Deutsche Telekom in July 2021. O2 plans to phase out by the end of 2021. All released areas should then soon be used for 5G.
(2) With the second option, the older LTE standard and 5G simply share the existing frequency ranges and, to put it simply, broadcast "alternately". Experts speak of dynamic spectrum sharing , which has already been mentioned several times .
(3) The last chance to find new resources for 5G mobile communications is to use higher frequencies than has been the case for a long time. Up until the introduction of 5G in 2019, it was mostly 3 to 4 GHz worldwide. In the early stages of development, 5G will initially only be used in areas below 6 GHz ( sub 6 GHz ). Experts also speak of " FR1 " (FR = Frequency Ranges). Release 15 provides bands from 450 MHz to 6 GHz for FR1, which corresponds to numbers 1-255 (see table above ).
The frequency range from 3.4 to 3.8 GHz plays an elementary role. Bands at 2 GHz were also up for auction. More precisely, 2 x 60 MHz at 1,920 MHz to 1,980 MHz and 2,110 MHz - 2,170 MHz. In addition, 300 MHz at 3,400 MHz to 3,700 MHz .
For 5G, however, much higher spectral ranges will be released or used for the first time . In 2015, the World Radiocommunication Conference proposed bands in the range from 24 to 86 GHz. FR2 (frequency range 2) from Release 15 specifically provides a spectrum from 24250 MHz to 52600 MHz, which corresponds to the band numbers 257-511 (table above). Commonly referred to as the mmWave area . The subject is quite complex. We have therefore summarized all information about 5G on mmWave for you in this guide .
8. Flexible frequency sharing: Dynamic spectrum sharing
With the 5G expansion , another clever technology is arriving, so-called dynamic spectrum sharing, or DSS for short . The procedure had always been mentioned briefly. In the future, however , DSS is likely to be of enormous importance . Above all because it enables the 5G expansion to be accelerated enormously. The basic idea: The users in a cell phone will always have 4G or 5G devices in a certain percentage ratio. Then you could simply divide the existing frequency ranges that were previously only used for 4G. This has the advantage, for example, that long-range tapes can also be used for expansion.
9. International plans & use of 5G frequencies
The GSA (Global Mobile Suppliers Association) had specific ideas early on as to which bands could be used in the 3.3 - 5 GHz range. Depending on the continent and region, the focus should be on different spectrums. Below you will find the currently planned and / or used bands for selected countries and regions. Each for low frequency (Sub 6) and in the next section about 24 GHz.
At the latest at 4990 MHz, the sub-6 GHz range is over, since the operating band for WLAN starts here at 5 GHz. The areas marked with * are unlicensed areas that (could) be shared with other applications. The latter therefore sometimes reach up to 7 GHz.
- Europe: 700 MHz | 3.4 - 3.8 | 5.9 - 6.4 GHz *
- USA: 600 MHz | 2.5 - 2.6 GHz (B41 / n41) | 3.45 - 4.2 * | 5.9 - 7.1 * GHz
- Japan: 3.6 - 4.1 | 4.5 - 4.9 GHz
- South Korea: 700/800 MHz | 2.3 / 2.39 GHz | 3.4 - 4 GHz | 5.9 - 7.1 * GHz
- China: 700 MHz | 2.5 / 2.6 GHz (B41 / n41) | 3.3 - 3.6 GHz | 4.8 - 5 GHz
- Canada: 600 MHz | 3.55 - 3.7 GHz
- Great Britain: 700 MHz | 3.4 - 3.8 GHz
- Germany: 700 MHz | 2.11 - 2.17 GHz (band n1) | 3.4 - 3.8 GHz
- France: 700 MHz | 3.46 - 3.8 GHz
- Italy: 700 MHz | 3.6 - 3.8 GHz
- Australia: 3.4 - 3.7 GHz
10. 5G on millimeter wave frequencies
As already indicated, bands much higher than 6 GHz are also used for 5G, the so-called millimeter wave range or mmWave . The USA is relying on several segments from 24 to 50 GHz for 5G Internet. Some are already in use, for others there are currently only plans. In Germany, the final award of the licenses is also still pending. The Federal Network Agency has only granted us a few user licenses for local networks that are used by companies or universities but are not publicly accessible.
As almost everywhere in Europe, the plan is to use it around 26 GHz. First a brief overview:
Bands FR2 or mmWave> 24 GHz:
- Europe (general): 24.25 - 27.5 GHz
- Germany: not yet awarded (planned at 26 GHz)
- Italy: 26.5 - 27.5 GHz
- Great Britain: not yet awarded
- USA: 24.25 - 24.45 | 24.75 - 25.25 | 27.5 - 28.35 +
37 - 37.6 GHz | 37.6 - 40 | 47.2 - 48.2 GHz
- Japan: 26.6 - 27 | 27-29.5 | 39 - 43.5 GHz
- China: 24.75 - 27.5 | 37 - 42.5 GHz
- South Korea: 25.7 - 26.5 | 26.5 - 28.9 | 28.9 - 29.5 | 37.5 - 38.7 GHz
- Canada: 26.5 - 27.5 | 27.5 - 28.35 | 37.37 - 37.6 | 37.6 - 40 GHz
- Australia: 24.25 - 27.5 | 39 GHz
- India: 24.25 - 27.5 | 27.5 - 29.5 | 37 - 43.5 GHz
11. Frequency band designations
The common nomenclatures for the individual frequency ranges, which are classified with letters, are also worth knowing. This is due to historical reasons! We have compiled the most important band abbreviations for 5G below. The assignment corresponds to that of the ITU. Accordingly, most LTE masts now radio in the L and S bands. The latter also includes the areas auctioned in the first 5G auction for the 5G lunch in Germany. In addition, there is sometimes a rough breakdown into low, mid and high bands .
12. Very early on, a few preferred ligaments were targeted
According to a whitebook published by the GSA in November 2018, three to five preferred bands for 5G operation emerged early on around the world. The 28 GHz range with almost 90 test networks around the world led the way by far. Followed by 3.5 GHz with 65 pilot projects.
In July 2020 , 5G networks, which are either operated (blue), licensed (red) or planned (purple) on band n77 and n78, actually led globally by a long way. See the following graphic. Followed by the FR2 mmWave tapes n257, n258 and n261. In addition, n260, n28, n7, n38 and n41 are also becoming increasingly popular.
This trend is likely to continue with global expansion in the years to come.
Distribution of band usage worldwide by frequency | Image: GSA June 2020
13. Health hazard from 5G frequencies?
Since 5G has been expanded in Germany (2019), more and more people have been thinking about possible health risks from 5G. The debate is fueled by some dubious fake news, such as how the technology correlates with bee deaths or even Corona.
The fact is: As we have already shown, the LTE successor transmits on slightly higher frequencies from the start than 4G before. Instead of a maximum of 2.6 GHz, ranges around 1 GHz higher are also used. In the future, even bands around 26 GHz will be used, i.e. 10 times as high as a few years ago. However, the higher the frequency, the lower the depth of penetration into the body. For example, while the long-wave LTE800 penetrates deeply for expansion in rural areas, millimeter-wave radiation is absorbed directly in the upper epidermis (skin) and can only lead to slight warming there, if a mobile phone is directly available near the body. A measure for this is the so-called SAR value (specific absorption rate), which is specified for every smartphone.
In addition , of course, the previous limit values also apply to 5G . The Federal Office for Radiation Protection currently sees no concerns about the use of the new mobile radio technology, as does the WHO. However , in 2019 they at least admitted to 5G-Anbieter.infothat there is still a need for research at mmWave. Studies that see a connection with cancer in cell phones draw their conclusions mostly only from the irradiation of animals over a long period of time and with extremely high doses of radiation , to which humans are not even exposed for a short time. In this example about 1.5-6 watts / kg, while the limit in this country is 0.08 W / kg. That would be like giving test persons only sugar for years and then saying sugar is carcinogenic if an above-average number of test persons then become ill.
Conclusion: According to the current state of knowledge, there are no sufficient indications that 5G frequencies have a negative or more negative effect on health than previous technologies for 2G, 3G, LTE, WLAN or television (DVB-T / SAT). For the 5G successor 6G, bands over 100 GHz up to the terra heart range are already being discussed.
14. Our conclusion
It is not yet clear which frequency ranges will win the race worldwide in the long term. However, there is already a tendency that 3.6 GHz and 28 GHz will play a dominant role, especially for "real" 5G standalone networks . As with LTE, there will again be greater differences globally, which the hardware manufacturers should demand again.
In Germany, 5G is currently broadcasting everything on band n78 and n1. Everything else is done via dynamic spectrum sharing. An "application process" is being worked on for bands at 26 GHz.
In addition, in the medium term, areas of older radio standards that are no longer used are expected to be cleared, such as 2.1 GHz via UMTS, through carrier aggregation, several areas can then be combined into one useful band. This technology is already used today with LTE from category 6 ( LTE-Advanced ) and is an elementary part of the 5G standard . The DSS approach , in which 4G and 5G are used simultaneously on the same frequencies , also appears promising .
 Federal Network Agency
GSA - https://gsacom.com/5g-spectrum-bands
Frequency compass of the Federal Network Agency
Band allocation 700 MHz to 3.6 GHz -> Federal Network Agency [ Link ]