The 5 GHz band is currently home to several services that need to continue to coexist even though, in some cases, their needs are growing: these include usages that have long been authorised (radars, satellites), as well as RLAN (Wi-Fi) applications and intelligent transport systems (ITS).
Local radio networks are often referred to in France by their English acronyms: RLAN (radio local area networks) or WLAN (wireless local area networks). They are more commonly known as Wi-Fi networks despite the fact that, strictly, the term refers more specifically to access technologies based on IEEE 802.11 standards, and that other technologies, in particular LTE-LAA developed by 3GPP, also have access to these bands.
European regulations provide for mechanisms for sharing the band between other existing users and RLANs. The 5 GHz band is used by military and meteorological radars, aeronautical radionavigation systems (onboard meteorological radars for the detection of cyclones and tornadoes), for earth exploration satellites and feeder links to the Globalstar satellite constellation. RLANs are permitted to use these frequencies, as long as they do not interfere with these devices.
To meet the growing demand for very high-speed broadband, the RLAN industry has been asking since 2013 for broader contiguous spectrum in the 5 GHz range in order to introduce new technologies using wider channel bandwidths (up to 160 MHz) that will offer wireless access at speeds comparable to those of optical fibre. Their request has been examined at both European and international level, particularly as part of WRC-15. The work, which focuses on the 5350-5470 MHz, 5725-5850 MHz and 5850-5925 MHz frequency bands, has not yet produced a satisfactory solution for safeguarding existing systems. The European Commission stressed in particular the need to protect applications covered by EU policies, such as Earth observation systems, including COPERNICUS (over €3.4 billion in EU and ESA investment, with €3.8 billion scheduled over the next six years), and the intelligent transport systems (ITS) that contribute to smooth traffic flows and road safety.
ANFR will continue its work to find a technologically neutral solution to facilitate coexistence between the various RLAN technologies in the 5 GHz range.
Regarding ITS, to contribute to possible economies of scale and facilitate the inherent mobility of vehicles, ANFR will strive to preserve the 5855-5925 MHz band for ITS applications, seeking, as far as possible, conditions for cohabitation with other potential users (RLAN or CBTC, the communications-based train control system for urban light rail transport systems).
In response to the item on the agenda of WRC-19, ANFR will contribute to work undertaken on new techniques for sharing the band with other users, and will analyse the regulatory constraints applicable in the existing bands. The Agency proposes in particular to:
- assess the advisability in Europe of a relaxation of the regulations on the current frequency bands (5150-5250 MHz and 5250-5350 MHz) whilst protecting the other (incumbent) systems, particularly satellite systems;
- safeguard COPERNICUS’ use of the 5370-5470 MHz band and consider making this frequency band a “safe haven” for radar systems, including weather radars;
- examine, in return, a reasonable solution for the extension of Wi-Fi in the 5725-5850 MHz band, which takes into account the need to protect existing uses (remote tolling or radars).