HK regulator opens consultation on 5G 3.4-3.7 GHz reallocation plan

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Hong Kong’s Communications Authority has officially kicked off its plan to reallocate the 3.4-3.7 GHz band from satellite operators to cellcos for 5G use in 2020.

The CA announced its overall 5G spectrum plan in March, which involves reallocating the 3.4-3.7 GHz band, as well as freeing up 4.1 GHz worth of mmWave spectrum in the 26-GHz and 28-GHz bands for 5G.

On Thursday the CA started work on the first part of that plan with a three-month public consultation on its 3.4-3.7 GHz reallocation plan. Telecoms players and other affected persons can submit give their views on the plan on or before September 7. The CA plans to make a final decision early next year.

The CA acknowledged in a statement that the plan is controversial, not least because the satellite sector – with uses part of the spectrum for C-band video delivery, among other things – has been arguing for years that it cannot feasibly share the band with terrestrial operators and, unlike cellcos, has no other spectrum bands it can switch to.

However, the CA noted that the ITU has already approved allocations of 3.4-3.6 GHz for both terrestrial mobile and fixed satellite services. Meanwhile, a number of markets – including China – are already actively exploring the use of the band for commercial 5G services by 2020.

The CA is proposing to use just 200 MHz of spectrum in the lower part of the band (3.4-3.6 GHz) for terrestrial mobile, while satellite operators can use the upper part (3.7-4.2 GHz), with a 100 MHz guard band between the two (3.6-3.7 GHz) to minimize interference.

The CA also said that cellcos who use the 3.4-3.6 GHz band for 5G will be held responsible for taking steps to ensure their networks don’t interfere with satellite transmissions.

From the release:

As there are about 1,600 SMATV systems with 890,000 user outlets in Hong Kong, to avoid any widespread impact on SMATV systems scattered over the territory of Hong Kong, the Office of the Communications Authority (“OFCA”) has commissioned a technical consultant to advise on the feasible mitigating measures to enable the co-existence of SMATV systems with future public mobile services to be operating in the C-band. To further safeguard the existing satellite earth stations receiving TT&C signals conveyed in the C-band, restriction zones may need to be imposed on public mobile services operating in the 3.4-3.6 GHz band to minimize interference to these TT&C stations.

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