Resources: March 2018

UHF for 4G and Beyond - 700/800 MHz Band Plans

March 2018


The move from analogue to digital TV globally in the last decade or so, has given rise to a huge opportunity to use the so called “digital dividend” to not only increase the choice and diversity of terrestrial TV programming, but to release spectrum to help with the roll-out of mobile broadband. This spectrum in the UHF band (below 1 GHz) is of huge importance to:


1) mobile operators in planning new LTE networks to have the same coverage footprint as their old GSM900 networks and to provide mobile broadband to hard-to-reach areas;


2) regulators in enabling fair share of sub-1GHz spectrum allocation to operators and expanding internet access to rural areas


However what has emerged is a mix of similar, but not always compatible, band plans for mobile in the spectrum vacated by television. 


The way the market and regulatory actions have developed since 2007 has led to three main LTE coverage bands from 698 to 862 MHz, which overlap or have base transmit and receive in opposite directions, making the implementation of both in the same place not practical.  The three main choices are shown below.

The Asian band plan (APT) has widespread support not just in Asia Pacific, but also in countries such as Mexico and others in Latam. 

The European band (CEPT) is widely deployed in Europe, and the Europeans have decided to use the lower part of the APT band plan (also known as the lower duplexer part).  This means that APT and CEPT bands are likely to be very widely adopted as coverage bands for LTE/4G.

The US band plan (option 3, also designated “A4” in the ITU Recommendation M.1036-5) is so far as we are aware limited to the US and Canada only so far.  This in part is due to the fragmented band plan adopted to deal with legacy US systems, which has led to an uplink/downlink/uplink configuration.  This is seen by many as overly complex for use outside of North America.


The correct choice and timing of that choice, of LTE coverage bands by regulators and operators, will be important if deployment costs are to be minimised and coverage maximised.