NZ makes initial allocation decision on 24–30 GHz spectrum
The Cabinet of New Zealand has made a high-level allocation decision regarding long-term use of the 24–30 GHz radio spectrum range, with a program of work now underway to make this spectrum available to the market in 2026. The decision is intended to provide the mobile and satellite industries with certainty on which portions of spectrum will be available for what purposes in the long term, allowing industry to plan accordingly.
Given the emerging equipment ecosystem and global harmonisation trends, New Zealand’s Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) had proposed the 26 GHz band primarily for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) use; this use includes enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), fixed wireless access (FWA) and industry verticals. For 28 GHz, RSM proposed sharing between IMT, fixed satellite services (FSS) and Earth stations in motion (ESIM). RSM published a discussion document on replanning 24–30 GHz in April 2021 and received 24 submissions from industry stakeholders by June 2021, when consultations closed.
Consultation highlighted that there are competing industry demands for spectrum in these bands, with both the mobile and satellite industries foreseeing substantial need for this spectrum in future. The initial high-level allocation decision aims to balance these interests, with each industry receiving an opportunity to access spectrum in a portion of the bands, with a further portion of the band being allocated for shared use between both industries.
In the 26 GHz band, the 24.25–27.5 GHz spectrum range will be primarily allocated for mobile use. This includes the option to include some satellite services in some areas under technical conditions.
The 28 GHz band will meanwhile be split up into two portions. The 27.5–28.35 GHz spectrum range will follow a sharing model between mobile and satellite services, while the 28.35–29.5 GHz spectrum range will be primarily allocated for satellite services, with the option to include some mobile use under technical conditions.
The 24–30 GHz spectrum range is expected to be made available for long-term use around May 2026. A work program including technical work, industry consultation, engagement with Māori (through the Interim Māori Spectrum Commission), and assignment processes, regulatory design and further decision-making will occur between now and 2026. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will be seeking further input from industry, including detailed technical input, with the first engagement set to be before the end of 2023.
Satellite service providers who hold current licences will be allowed to apply for extensions until May 2026, so they may continue providing services to New Zealand for the interim. By May 2026 future decisions are expected on the satellite licensing approach for long-term use. The details of these extensions will be discussed directly with the affected licensees prior to the current licence’s expiry.
Any additional or new interim licences for satellite services, as well as requests for other usage (eg, 5G fixed-term licences), will be considered by the MBIE on a case-by-case basis in line with the existing rules. Strict criteria will apply to ensure that this is compatible with the high-level allocation decision and does not prejudge future decisions.
Image credit: iStock.com/Uwe Moser
Nokia and Bosch have announced that they have jointly developed 5G-based precision positioning technology intended for new Industry 4.0 use cases. The two companies have deployed the proof of concept in a Bosch production plant in Germany, where extensive tests under realistic manufacturing conditions have shown accuracy within 50 cm in 90% of the factory footprint.
The positioning technology tracks mobile and portable devices connected to the 5G network, accurately determining their positions where no global navigation satellite service coverage is available, for instance in factories, warehouses or underground facilities. As part of the factory test, an enhanced private 5G network was able to determine the precise position of assets such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), mobile robots and mobile control panels — tracking their movements throughout the plant in real time.
Traditionally, 5G positioning works by measuring the time it takes for mobile signals to travel from a mobile device to different base stations and anchor nodes in the network. As signals take longer to reach nodes that are further away, the positioning system can triangulate its source. Nokia and Bosch have built upon that foundation by equipping 5G nodes with multiple receive antennas, which enable the network to detect the incoming angles of signals. Advanced Nokia Bell Labs algorithms interpret this time-delay and angle-of-arrival information to determine the most probable position of the mobile device. The proof of concept achieves a level of accuracy well beyond the current cellular position state of the art, the companies claim, providing a sneak peek at what 5G networks, both public and private, will be capable of in the future.
Precision localisation is important for many applications in industrial environments, such as robot navigation, asset tracking and worker safety. Realising both high-performance connectivity and high-accuracy positioning within a single private network’s infrastructure also has many operational benefits, such as reducing the complexity of IT infrastructure, leading to a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher returns on investments.
“Knowing where things are is generally very valuable information in manufacturing,” said Andreas Mueller, the chief expert responsible for 6G activities at Bosch. “While today usually separate systems are used for connecting and locating devices, this may be done via an integrated private 5G solution in the future. The proof of concept conducted jointly with Nokia underpins the leading role of Bosch in exploring new opportunities for our customers and developing the factory of the future.”
The announcement of the precise positioning collaboration is a key milestone, but it is only one of the innovations Nokia and Bosch are pursuing. The companies have also begun conducting joint research in the next generation of networking, investigating how future 6G networks could be used for both communications and sensing when they are commercially available by the end of the decade.
While 5G has the potential to determine the location of devices connected to the network, 6G will have the ability to track the position of any object — whether connected or unconnected. This will allow 6G signals to function similarly to radar, giving users an awareness of their surroundings beyond their traditional senses.
“Bosch and Nokia Bell Labs foresee a future where networks do far more than communicate,” said Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs Core Research at Nokia. “Soon, 5G will track connected devices more precisely than satellites, in places satellites can’t reach. In the next decade, 6G will be capable of sensing all objects in their coverage areas regardless of whether they contain active radios. We are creating networks that will endow humans with a digital sixth sense.”