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Understanding 5G NR Operating Bands: A Technical Overview

Understanding 5G NR Operating Bands: A Technical Overview
Understanding 5G NR Operating Bands: A Technical Overview

The evolution of 5G New Radio (NR) technology represents a significant advancement in mobile telecommunications, providing faster data rates, lower latency, and greater connectivity. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has meticulously specified operating bands for 5G NR, categorized into two primary frequency ranges. This article delves into these operating bands, exploring their specifications, capabilities, and implications for the future of wireless communication.


Frequency Range I (FR1): 450 MHz to 6 GHz

Frequency Range I (FR1) encompasses the spectrum from 450 MHz to 6 GHz. This range includes a variety of operating bands that support multiple duplex modes, such as Frequency Division Duplex (FDD), Time Division Duplex (TDD), Supplemental Downlink (SDL), and Supplemental Uplink (SUL).

  • One of the key characteristics of FR1 is its ability to repurpose existing 4G LTE bands for 5G use. This repurposing, or refarming, allows for efficient spectrum utilization and a smoother transition to 5G. For instance, operating bands like n1, n2, and n3 correspond to legacy 4G bands, now adapted for 5G. FR1 bands typically operate at lower frequencies, which provide better coverage and penetration capabilities but offer lower data rates compared to higher frequencies.


Operating Bands in FR1

  1. Band n77: Spanning 3300 to 4200 MHz, Band n77 is one of the largest in FR1, offering substantial throughput capabilities at relatively low frequencies.

  2. Band n78: A subset of Band n77, Band n78 ranges from 3300 to 3800 MHz and is available in regions where the full n77 band is not allocated.

Each band within FR1 supports specific channel bandwidths based on subcarrier spacing, which can be 15, 30, or 60 kHz. This flexibility allows for optimal spectrum utilization depending on the deployment scenario.


Table 1: Sample FR1 Operating Bands and Bandwidths

Band

Duplex Mode

Uplink Band (MHz)

Downlink Band (MHz)

Bandwidth (MHz)

n1

FDD

1920 - 1980

2110 - 2170

2 x 60

n2

FDD

1850 - 1910

1930 - 1990

2 x 60

n3

FDD

1710 - 1785

1805 - 1880

2 x 75

n77

TDD

3300 - 4200


900

n78

TDD

3300 - 3800


500

Frequency Range II (FR2): 24.25 GHz to 52.60 GHz

Frequency Range II (FR2) covers the higher spectrum from 24.25 GHz to 52.60 GHz, supporting TDD. Bands in this range are specifically allocated for 5G, enabling significantly higher data throughput due to broader bandwidths. FR2 is characterized by its ability to support advanced technologies like beamforming, which enhances signal quality and capacity, particularly in dense urban environments.

The high frequencies in FR2 facilitate ultra-fast data rates and low latency, essential for applications such as virtual reality (VR) and ultra-high-definition (UHD) video streaming.


Operating Bands in FR2

  • Band n257: Operating between 26.5 GHz and 29.5 GHz, Band n257 supports channel bandwidths up to 400 MHz with 120 kHz subcarrier spacing.

  • Band n260: Covering 37.0 GHz to 40.0 GHz, Band n260 also supports bandwidths up to 400 MHz, showcasing the high data rate potential of FR2.


Table 2: Sample FR2 Operating Bands and Bandwidths

Band

Uplink/Downlink Band (MHz)

Bandwidth (MHz)

n257

26 500 - 29 500

50, 100, 200, 400

n258

24 250 - 27 500

50, 100, 200, 400

n260

37 000 - 40 000

50, 100, 200, 400

n261

27 500 - 28 350

50, 100, 200, 400

Technical Specifications and Channel Bandwidths In 5G

The technical specifications of 5G NR operating bands are critical for ensuring that networks can meet diverse performance requirements. Unlike 4G, where there is a one-to-one mapping between base station and UE channel bandwidths, 5G allows for greater flexibility. A 5G base station can support a channel bandwidth greater than or equal to that of the UE. For instance, a base station with a 100 MHz channel bandwidth can allocate resource blocks to UEs with varying bandwidth capabilities.


Table 3: Channel Bandwidths for FR1 and FR2

Frequency Range

Subcarrier Spacing

Max Bandwidth (MHz)

FR1

15 kHz

50

FR1

30 kHz

100

FR1

60 kHz

100

FR2

60 kHz

200

FR2

120 kHz

400

Conclusion

The specification of 5G NR operating bands by 3GPP is pivotal in ensuring that 5G networks can deliver on their promise of enhanced performance and connectivity. By categorizing these bands into FR1 and FR2, 3GPP accommodates a wide range of use cases, from broad coverage to high-capacity hotspots. This comprehensive approach allows for a robust and versatile 5G ecosystem, capable of meeting the demands of future wireless communication needs.


References

  • 3GPP TS 38.101-1: NR; User Equipment (UE) radio transmission and reception; Part 1: Range 1 Standalone

  • 3GPP TS 38.101-2: NR; User Equipment (UE) radio transmission and reception; Part 2: Range 2 Standalone

  • 3GPP TS 38.104: NR; Base Station (BS) radio transmission and reception

  • Frequency Range 1 (FR1) and Frequency Range 2 (FR2) in 5G NR

  • Overview of 5G NR Frequency Bands

  • 5G NR in bullets

These references provide a comprehensive understanding of 5G NR operating bands and their specifications, offering a deep dive into the technical details that define the future of mobile telecommunications.

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