Radio frequencies: 700 MHz band and 5G


What is the 700 MHz band and what is it used for?

The 700 MHz frequency band consists of radio spectrum in the range 694-790 MHz. It is part of the wider ultra-high frequency (UHF) band, currently used throughout Europe for terrestrial broadcasting. The UHF band comprises the range 470-790 MHz and is used for the transmission of various digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels and for wireless microphones in all EU Member States. Traditionally, this band has been exclusively allocated to broadcasting in Europe and Africa, as well as in large parts of the rest of the world. TV channels delivered to citizens via the UHF band are in standard definition (SD) and in high definition (HD) formats, and are received on TV sets at home through rooftop or room antennas.

Which mobile technologies could be used in the 700 MHz band? Is this band going to support 5G, the next generation of communication networks?

Mobile operators using the 700 MHz band will be able to offer higher-speed and higher-quality broadband (i.e. without service interruption) to consumers and cover wider areas. It will enable Europe move ahead and provide mobile broadband speeds beyond 100 Mb/s and catch up with leading regions in 4G mobile broadband take-up (like South Korea or the USA).

As soon as specific 5G standards and associated technology and equipment are available (expected around 2020), mobile operators will be in a position to roll out 5G services. All EU-harmonised bands for wireless broadband (see Figure 1) are potentially suitable for supporting future 5G services. The total available spectrum in these bands (including the 700 MHz band) amounts to nearly 1100 MHz, placing the EU in a good position to lead in 5G. 

700 MHz frequencies are essential for 5G, which should become a reality around 2020. They will be ideal for connected cars and other new digital services which rely on very good coverage. This will also help the development of other innovative services like on-board entertainment, remote health care (i.e. medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices and other wireless devices) or smart energy grids in the Internet of Things.


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