July 22, 2024

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What’s Still Standing in the 5G Highway?

What’s Still Standing in the 5G Highway?

It was already supposed to happen next month: the radio-frequency auction that will give Dutch mobile internet a big boost. You can download at hundreds of megabytes per second – much faster than now. Also in crowded places, such as stations.

National providers like T-Mobile, KPN and VodafoneZiggo like to use the 3.5GHz frequency band. Several sets of radio frequencies will be auctioned there, providing enough space for 5G mobile networks. According to the network providers, this will be a super-fast and reliable connection that will unleash the next industrial revolution, and radically improve logistics and healthcare.

Those are the promises. But so far, little has come of it.

European Court of Auditors warned Last month most EU countries rolled out 5G very slowly. The European Union imposes 5G obligations on member states to ensure that promised new internet services will operate in a uniform manner.

The Netherlands, which likes to be proud of its excellent mobile connections, is in the middle of the field by European standards with the spread of 5G. The Netherlands’ national frequency plan – which allocates available bandwidth to various applications – is not working. Because as long as providers, satellite stations, local license holders and networks of, say, Rotterdam Port and Schiphol stand in each other’s way around 3.5GHz, these important frequencies cannot be auctioned off in the Netherlands. This is the reason for postponing the auction.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs should do its duty again and revise the frequency scheme. Now waiting for a independent advisory committeewho talks with all stakeholders and has to know conflicting interests.

This is a difficult puzzle. Space for frequency is scarce, and there are economic and political conflicts of interest. Physics also doesn’t help launch super-fast internet on Earth.

Norwegian Refugee Council I spoke with stakeholders from the telecom sector and researchers from Agentschap Telecom, Dialogic and TNO to answer the question: What is still standing in the way of faster 5G in the Netherlands?

1 Wide highway required: 3.5GHz

Dutch providers have been offering 5G for two years over a lower frequency band, around 700MHz. Space is limited in this frequency band and you will notice a slight difference with the current 4G network. To get really fast speeds, networks need more bandwidth to transfer data. About 3.5GHz, 300MHz is available for national networks. In theory – after all, the auction has not yet taken place – 100MHz bands are available for all three national providers, as they can quickly deliver 5G. It makes sense: Compare it to a five-lane highway that can handle many more cars than a narrow country road.

Modern phones are ready: they can already handle 3.5GHz frequencies. Wider highways, with a larger capacity, are available in the 26GHz band, but they will not be auctioned off in the Netherlands for the time being. At those 26GHz frequencies, you can only connect if your phone or modem can actually “see” the antenna – and that’s what limits applications. 3.5 GHz does not have these limitations, although the antennas reach a distance of less than 700 MHz. It works like a loudspeaker: the booming bass tone carries far beyond the loud sounds.

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2 Traffic jam in the north

It’s already very busy around 3.5GHz. The satellite provider Inmarsat is located in Borum in Friesland. There they listen for distress signals from international shipping around 3.5GHz. Inmarsat has always been “shielded” by the radio silence imposed by its powerful neighbor, the intelligence intercept station. Both the MIVD and AIVD listen to the satellite traffic in Borum which is why no network in the North has been allowed to interfere on this frequency. Inmarsat has benefited from this.

From September 1, this interception station will move to a secret location offshore and the North will be given 3.5GHz of space for 5G services. Only: If mobile networks in much of the Netherlands are active on 3.5GHz, Inmarsat in Borum won’t hear which ships are in distress.

Therefore, Inmarsat filed a complaint with the first aid judge, requesting that the frequency plan be suspended. The judge ruled in Inmarsat’s favour. The Ministry of Economic Affairs was “neglected” and this should not compromise the safety of shipping. It is up to the advisory committee to find a solution.

Inmarsat prefers not to move and thinks it is possible to stay in the north of the Netherlands if the national providers want to make arrangements with their 3.5GHz antennas, for example using each other’s network. Service providers don’t want that. It’s technically possible to allocate less bandwidth to a 5G network for a number of years – until Inmarsat moves on. Even such a temporary solution cannot count on much support from the telecom sector.

3 There is a cheese gap in cities

Even if the 5G puzzle in the North is resolved, the three major national carriers are still concerned about local and private networks. These are smaller parties – municipal authorities and companies – who have a license until September 1, 2026 to provide services in the 3.5 GHz band.

Think broadband internet in remote areas – a mobile phone network as an alternative to cable or fiber – or wireless surveillance cameras in cities like Utrecht, Eindhoven and Amsterdam.

T-Mobile, KPN, and VodafoneZiggo assume the worst in their estimates. They circle every local network for miles, like a no-go zone for their fast 5G network. What remains is a cheese with holes, certainly not a national grid.

can not be deduced from antenna record – Only websites are listed there.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is trying to encourage local licensees to purchase new equipment that no longer gets in their way. But this is difficult as long as the frequency plan is still under discussion.

Utrecht and Amsterdam say they are looking into whether they can switch to a different frequency. Eindhoven wants to move the city’s six wireless cameras to other frequencies before 2026. Eindhoven estimates the costs at 50,000 euros. The costs of moving camera networks vary greatly – depending on the technical solution between 20,000 euros and 1.1 million euros, calculated Dialogic Research Office Based on data from the Communications Agency. Researchers are not allowed to determine which city is the most expensive.

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4 Frequency distribution leads to skewed faces

How is the frequency pie divided? Currently, the government keeps 300MHz for public networks, such as those of KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo, and 100MHz for private networks. 100MHz is split into two 50MHz blocks, on either side of the national service providers. So two smaller circular slices.

Large companies such as container carriers ECT or Schiphol should operate within this bandwidth.

People in the port of Rotterdam are not satisfied with the space available for private networks. Preferably they have one big slice of pie, as in Germany. There, companies can use a contiguous 100MHz bandwidth. They think this has technical advantages. National service providers would prefer to see less space devoted to corporate networks – they are, after all, competing services.

But partitioning private blocks is also annoying for NSPs. This has a technical reason. Frequency blocks adjacent to LANs require further modification. This makes it less attractive than the central block, which borders only other national networks. In other words, the middle block is more valuable in a future auction.

This touches on another fear of Dutch providers: that more scarcity, due to relationships between lots, will lead to higher prices. Significant amounts have already been paid for frequency blocks. As in Germany, where the auction of 5G frequencies brought in 6.6 billion euros.

5 Networks must take each other into account

It is useful for the provider to create a network with a few powerful antennas. But it quickly “blows” too far and can cause malfunctions. Many smaller antennas work more accurately, but this is more expensive and requires more maintenance.

Until 2026, there will be about 300 to 700 Additional mounting points for antennas Created. That’s relatively little when you consider that NSPs actually have over four thousand each.

Transmitters always leak a little bit about the frequency range they are supposed to operate in. Margins are created to keep neighboring networks separate from each other. This part of no man’s land in bandwidth comes at the expense of available bandwidth.

By forwarding and relaxing channels, you can take neighbors into account. Filters help too. But it doesn’t work well on active antennas which fit perfectly on 3.5GHz. This active antenna consists of a group of small antennas, which direct the signal more precisely and efficiently. This is especially useful in crowded places like cities.

5G networks synchronization Also among themselves, to keep them from getting in each other’s way. There is a difference between synchronization between national providers and local networks. KPN, T-Mobile, and VodafoneZiggo are designed for users who usually download more data than upload. But many business applications, such as surveillance with cameras, depend primarily on traffic loading. This makes coordination between public and private networks difficult.

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6 Network can cause disturbances

Even at great distances, radio signals in the same range can interfere with each other. This requires tens or even hundreds of kilometers, under the right weather conditions. For example, the German 5G network could cause disruptions to satellite reception in Friesland.

In the United States, airlines sounded the alarm at the beginning of this year. 5G roll out will be Turn on the altimeters Disable aircraft. These altimeters operate at a frequency from 4200 to 4400 MHz. These radar measurements operate on takeoff and landing; At high altitudes, aircraft use barometric altimeters.

The US aviation sector relies on very conservative studies and estimates, believes TNO expert Rob van Heijster, who says: Research Verb for altimeter. In the United States – a vast country with many airports – telecom service providers have the option of using higher powers for their antennas. There is no interference with lower powers. Europe uses 5G frequencies that are far from altimeters than the United States.

7 Providers believe there will be no auction before 2023

Although modifications to the frequency plan have been implemented by Inmarsat, the advisory committee has spoken in recent months with all kinds of stakeholders – in addition to Inmarsat, the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol, national service providers and independent researchers.

who – which A committee, led by former Dutch Philips CEO Hans de Jong, will issue the advice in May. Then the official mill starts spinning again.

Minister Miki Adriansen (Economic Affairs and Climate, VVD) aims to take a decision on the amendment of the National Frequency Plan on October 1. The Ministry does not dare to say how quickly it will proceed next. This depends on advice, and the ministry does not want to get in the way of that process. Providers anticipate that there will be no auction before 2023.

For providers, national deployment of the 3.5GHz band for 5G is only economically feasible after 2026, they say. It is not realistic to make a “significant investment” to protect local licensees for a few years – perhaps shorter due to further postponement of the auction.

In other words: The Netherlands will likely wait until September 2026 to get its national 5G networks. Only when local licensees move or synchronize their networks with those of national providers can the ultra-fast network work everywhere.