Last week the US State Department officially requested that CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunications Commission) recognize the 3.3-3.4GHz band as a 5G band in the Americas.
The member states of CITEL work to unify their efforts to promote and achieve economic and social development with equity.
This request provides a great opportunity to evaluate how three of the countries in CITEL have allocated their 3.5GHz spectrum. To look at the existing and future spectrum allocations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico I will use Spektrum Metrics' Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool for each country.
The first thing that we can see is that both the US and Canada have either allocated or auctioned C-band spectrum (3700-3980MHz). Canada's C-band channel plan utilizes 10MHz channels while the US plans uses 20MHz channels. Canada's C-band allocation actually incorporates the 50MHz GAA channel of the spectrum that the US uses for CBRS which will create operational issues in border areas like Vancouver BC/Bellingham WA and Windsor ON/Detroit MI. There could be issues from usage in Toronto that would affect the upper CBRS channel in northern New York state.
Canada recently auctioned 3450MHz to 3650MHz which will put fully powered licensed operations on the remaining CBRS channels including all of the PAL licenses.
Mexico has not allotted their C-band spectrum yet, but they have repurposed the 3450MHz to 3600MHz bands. Similarly I would expect border interference with the 5 CBRS channels that overlap the full power licensed channels in Mexico. Issues in San Diego, El Paso, and Brownville could be caused by this joint operation at the border.
So I have highlighted several incompatibilities between the US allocations and Canadian allocations along with incompatibilities between the Mexican allocations and US allocations so it should be clear why this State Department request is critical. The request is necessary to create the only band of spectrum utilized and licensed in a similar manner between all three countries since this spectrum has only been allocated for auction by the Mexican authorities (IFT). I believe that it is critical that this spectrum is fully licensed spectrum (not shared spectrum) so it can harmonize usage at the borders for all three countries.
United States - 3.5GHz Band Plan:
Canada - 3.5GHz Band Plan:
Mexico - 3.5GHz Band Plan:
In April, El Economista highlighted a transfer of 3.5GHz spectrum in Mexico from Telmex to Telcel. The article highlights a series of consultations between Telmex, Telcel, AT&T, and the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT). I will use our Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool (MEX) to examine these transactions and the overall 5G spectrum plans in Mexico.
Our Spectrum Grid from December 2019, reflects the ownership of the 3.5GHz band prior to the Telcel acquisition. At this point, Telmex, AT&T, and Axtel each owned 50MHz of spectrum (25MHz of uplink and 25MHz of downlink spectrum). In this view we included a TDD band class 48 which is the only band class defined by 3GPP for this band. Obviously, systems using this band configuration are not using band class 48 since they are FDD and band class 48 is TDD.
AT&T and Telmex approached the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) in December to request that they exchange AT&T's D channel for Telmex's H channel, providing each carrier with 50MHz blocks of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. This exchange only makes sense if IFT reconfigured the entire band to TDD spectrum.
The new configuration is reflected in the image below with Telcel acquiring Telmex's 50MHz channel. Now Telcel and AT&T are set up with the minimum 5G channel size in one of Mexico's two TDD bands and IFT also has 150MHz of spectrum remaining for a future auction. It is interesting to note, that both Canada and Mexico have opted for licensing spectrum directly to carriers for their 3.5GHz bands while the USA has gone with the shared spectrum and PAL licensing approach.
Allnet Insights & Analytics is excited to announce an expansion of our industry leading spectrum ownership analysis products to cover the Mobile Carrier (600MHz to 3.7GHz) frequency bands for Mexico. We are releasing not only a October 2019 new release, but historical monthly releases going back to June 2016. The Mobile Carrier Tool not only provides the spectrum allocation details for all of the Mexican Mobile Carrier spectrum but it provides 21 different analysis modules and charts to analyze and compare each wireless carrier's spectrum assets by channel, market, frequency band, band classification, and LTE band class. Each carrier's licensed population and MHz-POPs values are included as well.
The Mexican Spectrum Grid details the current and future spectrum ownership for each municipio (county). The municipio areas can be seen on the map below which indicates Ultravision's Broadband Radio (2.5GHz) holdings.
Below is the Mexican Spectrum Grid for the Mobile Carrier low band spectrum. All of the 600MHz spectrum is currently controlled by the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IPF) leading up to an early 2020 auction.