Will 5G Have a Clear Win over Wi-Fi for Industrial Digital Transformations?

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3Q 2020 | IN-5864


Unlicensed Spectrum Feature in the 3GPP


In April 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that 1200 MHz 6GHz spectrum would be opened in the U.S. market for unlicensed use. This was great news for Wi-Fi-like applications, as it will expand more spectrum (and also capacity) for players whose telecom business is mainly focused on unlicensed bands. To further strengthen the position of technologies using unlicensed bands, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) also introduced the first global cellular standard that supports 5G New Radio (NR) for operation in Unlicensed bands (NR-U) with Release 16, which was frozen on July 3, 2020. Unlike the 4G LTE for operation in Unlicensed bands (LTE-U) or LTE Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), 5G NR-U enables both license-assisted communications and standalone use of unlicensed spectrum for 5G. Both activities could help the vast majority of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) expand their network connectivity. Besides, they can also lower the threshold to embrace more vertical enterprises to smoothen their industrial digital transformations.

Allowing 5G operat…

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