On 18 November, Colombia’s National Spectrum Agency (ANE) published Resolution 737, officially adding the 1.200 MHz that comprise the 6 GHz frequency band to the Resolution 105 of 2020. This will allow the use of this spectrum for Wireless Access Systems (WAS) and promote the use of unlicensed technologies such as Wi-Fi 6/6E. ANE determined the conditions to use WAS technologies for frequencies in the range of 5925 MHz to 7125 MHz, highlighting that the band can only operate under indoor conditions.
The journey to the decision
The decision comes after at least 3 open consultations made by both the Information and Communication Technologies Ministry (MinTIC) and the ANE. The first consultation occurred in January 2020, with the most recent being in July 2022. On such consultations, Colombia’s authorities asked for contributions related to coexistence studies, economic and technical analysis, and opinions on what the best use of the spectrum band would be.
Many companies and organisations expressed the importance of having additional spectrum available for unlicensed use without risking the development of potential future licensed technologies such as 5G. In addition, ANE expressed that Low Power Indoor (LPI) applications will have a very low probability of interfering with incumbent services such as microwave links or fixed satellite links that also operate in the 6 GHz band.
Regarding the specific conditions for the use of the band, ANE specified that the amount of spectrum destined for unlicensed use allows up to 7 channels of 160 MHz, or 3 channels of 320 MHz, offering greater transmission capacity and throughput to the end-user.
- The band can only be used with a maximum of 30 dBm of IERP with an IERP density of up to 5 dBM/MHz for access devices, a maximum of 24 dBm of IERP, and an IERP density of up to -1 dBm for client devices.
- In addition, its use is not allowed on oil rigs, cars, trains, boats, and aircraft – with exception of aircraft flying above 10.000 feet. It is not permitted for the operation of equipment destined to control or communicate with unmanned aerial vehicles.
With the decision, Colombia’s authorities send a strong message in support of unlicensed applications and technologies by increasing the number of bands and total spectrum available for WAS technologies, and join the US and Brazil as those opting for a full-band approach.
This decision will likely benefit households and users with a strong access to fiber optic and high-capacity transport networks, with a promise of faster and better communication in indoor networks. In addition, Colombian users can expect an increase in speeds for fixed internet access offerings, as well as a robust ecosystem of devices, innovations, and a more intense competition in Internet Service Provider’s offerings in the mid-term.
Finally, in terms of 5G licensed spectrum, the country seems to confirm its bet on the 3.5 GHz band, which according to Colombia’s Digital Transformation presidential advisor, Saul Kattan, will be auctioned 1H-2023.
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