the quality of services in cellular networks may deteriorate if new ranges are not allocated

Mobile operators in Russia are focused on developing 4G networks. Over the next few years, LTE technology will continue to prevail, so by 2025 it will be used by 80% of Russian cellular subscribers. However, while maintaining the existing traffic growth rates, it will be possible to ensure data transmission with a guaranteed high-quality level of service only with the transition to more modern technologies that require new frequency ranges, experts warn.

Degradation is inevitable

The volume of transmitted traffic in cellular networks is growing exponentially, he noted, speaking at the SPEKTR-2021 forum, chief designer of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Scientific Research Institute of Radio” (NIIR) Valery Butenko.

One of the reasons for this is the coronavirus pandemic and the transition to online communication, for example, video conferencing using the mobile Internet.

Other reasons for the traffic growth:

  • the proliferation of 4G smartphones;

  • high dynamics of development of LTE networks;

  • increased interest in “heavy” content (mainly video);

  • increased demand for cellular communications in the corporate segment;

  • low cost of services: tariffs for mobile Internet in Russia are among the lowest in the world.

4G networks in Russia operate in the 800, 1800 and 2600 megahertz bands. It is on LTE until 2025 that the main world Internet traffic will fall, they said previously experts from RSpectr.

The situation in Russia corresponds to the global one, analysts say GSMA… According to their forecasts, by 2025, the vast majority (80%) of cellular subscribers in the Russian Federation will use 4G.

However, already today operators are using various ways to increase the capacity of networks in order to achieve guaranteed quality of services, V. Butenko notes. This, in particular, the shutdown of 3G in 2100 MHz and the deployment in this LTE band, an increase in the number of base stations to expand coverage, and others.

“But these are all methods and methods that, on the one hand, require additional financial costs. On the other hand, they are all finite. It is impossible to non-stop increasing the number of base stations in a limited range, “- emphasizes V. Butenko.

He also said that, according to MTS, in Moscow, by 2026, the possibilities for increasing the network resources will be exhausted; then the degradation of the quality of the services rendered is inevitable.

Валерий Бутенко, НИИР:

Обеспечить передачу данных с гарантированным уровнем сервиса в условиях экспоненциально растущих объемов трафика можно только при переходе к более современным технологиям, таким как 5G.

Representatives of the operator community agree with this statement.

For example, the head of the department for the introduction of new technologies of the company “VimpelCom” (brand Beeline) Alexander Balyuk at the forum 5G Future Russia 2021 stated: “Mobile data traffic continues to grow. But the “pipe” called LTE has limitations. And this leads us to two scenarios. The first is a deterioration in the quality of services for subscribers. The second is the increase in their value. And given that lately they like to load operators with different encumbrances, it is possible that both are being implemented. “

The press service of Beeline added that while maintaining the corresponding traffic growth rates, quality degradation is almost inevitable in the next two to three years.

“In the most densely populated areas, it will start even earlier. This situation will be resolved either by allocating additional frequency bands that can be used, including for 5G, or by prioritizing traffic based on the cost of services, ”the company said.

This was also stated in interview RBC CEO of MegaFon Khachatur Pombukhchan.

He explained that the population density in the agglomerations is increasing, and the volume of data consumption is growing by about 40-50% per year. Content units are becoming more difficult: video, a large number of applications that are constantly updated and transfer data.

“The standard can support a certain population density with a certain traffic volume. Mobile operators are forced to increase the number of base stations in order to reduce the coverage area of ​​each and achieve acceptable quality on it. It works for some time, then it becomes ineffective, “- said the head of MegaFon. First, it is too expensive, he said. Secondly, it is very difficult to maintain the transport backbone infrastructure. “If a normal 5G standard does not appear in our metropolitan areas for some meaningful time, the quality of the usual mobile user experience will begin to degrade,” Pombukhchan warned, adding that this will happen in less than ten years.

To increase the capacity of networks, operators are refarming frequencies, launching LTE instead of networks of previous generations, told RSpectr in the press service of MegaFon.

“However, this will not allow us to fully cope with the loads. The problem can be prevented by solving the frequency issue by allocating the 3.4-3.8 GHz band for the commercial 5G network. It is the most suitable for the development of the network and today it is successfully used by many countries of the world, ”the company emphasizes.

Frequency question open

By the decision of the State Commission on Radio Frequencies of March 17, 2020, the bands 694-790 MHz, 2300-2400 MHz, 2570-2620 MHz, 4400-4990 MHz and 24.25-27.5 GHz are identified as promising for the construction of 5G communication networks on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The same decision opened an opportunity for an indefinite circle of people to use the 24.25-24.65 gigahertz radio frequency band for the implementation of fifth-generation networks.

The first and so far the only company in the Russian Federation to receive a license to provide 5G mobile services was MTS

Today, there are 16 zones in the country where test networks of the fifth generation are deployed. For them, frequencies of 4.8 GHz and 27 gigahertz are used.

Operators insist that the 3.4-3.8 GHz range is the most suitable and demanded all over the world for the development of fifth-generation networks, but in Russia it is occupied by the power structures and means of Roscosmos. Therefore, even testing of 5G technology in these frequencies is prohibited.

“We believe in the need for the 3.4-3.8 GHz range,” Alesya Mamchur, Director of Strategic Development of Rostelecom, said at the 5G Future Russia 2021 forum. – For us, this is an unchanging position, and we continue to insist that the allocated range of 24.25-24.65 GHz is not enough for solving problems – it should be considered as complementary to the basic one. And the same goes for 4.8-4.99 GHz. “

The security issues of the country are higher than the commercial interests of companies, V. Butenko states.

Experts often refer to the fact that the 4800 MHz band has limitations for use in the border area.

Director of the Department of State Regulation of the Telecommunications Market of the Ministry of Digital Industry of Russia Dmitry Tur at the SPECTR-2021 forum announced the development of options for ensuring international legal protection of frequency assignments in 4.8-4.99 GHz in adjacent territories.

D. Tour also recalled: the 700 MHz band, which can be used for the introduction of 5G, is now occupied by terrestrial television broadcasting.

RTRS transmitters operate on it, providing the population with 20 compulsory public channels of the first and second multiplexes. In addition, it is used by radio navigation systems. To free the range, it is necessary to agree on the position of broadcasters on the possibility of transferring TV transmitters to lower frequency bands. And also the launch of a program for the complete transfer of funds from the Ministry of Defense to other bands and partial use of 700 MHz in the medium term in individual cities.

6 GHz for fifth generation

Experts note that in the medium term, the range of 6425-7100 MHz (6 GHz) can be used for 5G needs – if the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 decides to allocate it to fifth generation networks. “If this happens, the problem of the frequency deficit for 5G will be removed for some time,” says V. Butenko.

Dmitry Konarev, a leading wireless technology expert at Huawei Eurasia, explains that significantly more spectrum in the mid-frequency band will be required in 2025–2030 in order to cost-effectively realize the potential of mobile communications. According to the expert, 6 GHz in the next five years will be able to become the basic range for increasing the capacity of networks in cities.

Evgeny Devyatkin, director of the Research Center for Advanced Wireless Communication Technologies at NIIR, said that he is being studied in Russia. So, in the near future his institute plans to carry out work to assess the load of the 6425-7100 MHz band and full-scale tests of pre-production samples of equipment, which will be provided by Huawei.

“If we decide to allocate the 6 GHz band to 5G networks, we will get more than 500 MHz of additional frequency resource, which in a number of characteristics is not inferior to 3.5 GHz,” E. Devyatkin emphasizes.

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