5G has gained ground in discussions in recent weeks. Telecommunications operators’ marketing works at full throttle in favor of technology, which promises a connectivity revolution in the coming years. But, with the first networks using dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), we are in the dilemma of advertising 5G and “real” 5G. After all, does Brazil really have 5G before the auction?
Anatel’s next frequency auction should only take place in 2021, but that did not prevent operators from activating 5G technology in Brazil. This is possible thanks to DSS, which stands for Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, that is, dynamic spectrum sharing.
This format allows operators to use 5G with the same capacity already adopted by other technologies, such as 4G, 3G and 2G.
Is 5G DSS 5G? (Yes.)
Many people argue that the 5G DSS is not the “real 5G” and is nothing more than 4G under another name. This confusion is understandable, since the largest American operator has renamed its 4.5G to 5G. But dealing specifically with the 5G DSS, this is not the case.
The 5G with dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) is, in fact, another technology, with standard 5G NR (New Radio) in format NSA (non-standalone, release 15). This means that the 5G DSS:
- it is a new technology, which fits as 5G NR in 3GPP standards;
- depends on core existing 4G LTE to work, although it has dedicated carriers for the technology (just like any 5G NSA, regardless of spectrum sharing);
- it is a 5G network that has no dedicated spectrum to work, and shares the capacity of 4G, 3G and / or 2G.
Technically speaking, the 5G DSS is yes 5G, because it is 5G NR technology. However, the 5G DSS is quite different from the traditional 5G, with its dedicated frequencies that deliver greater simultaneous capacity and very high speeds.
What is the difference from the 5G DSS to the “real 5G”?
Because its spectrum is shared with other technologies, the 5G DSS does not deliver the full potential of a 5G network. And that is why we have the popular expression “real 5G”, which refers to a network with exclusive capacity for technology.
The speeds of the 5G DSS can be greater than the 4.5 G, depending on the shared capacity. But do you know those very high transfer rates, in the gigabit per second range? This is restricted to the “real 5G”, with dedicated frequency.
What is the advantage of the 5G DSS?
The 5G DSS is much more economical and quick to install: there are several antenna radios from operators that start supporting the new technology with just a software update. With this, companies from all over the world will adopt the standard, as it allows a rapid expansion of technology to national levels.
In addition to the technical part, the 5G DSS is useful for delivering faster speeds and better user experience in regions where it is not economically viable to build a 5G network from scratch, once the existing infrastructure is used.
Finally, the frequencies used by technologies such as 4G, 3G and 2G are less than the capacities that will be auctioned by Anatel in 2021. DSS will take 5G to these frequencies, which continue to be extremely important to guarantee coverage in indoor environments, such as buildings, houses and establishments.
What operators think of the 5G DSS
Claro is the protagonist of the 5G DSS
Claro is the main operator to be remembered, for running commercials wide open its 5G. The company activated its 5G DSS network in July 2020, with coverage in neighborhoods of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The operator says that the 5G DSS “is the beginning of a great journey of transformation”, and that “all investments made to implement the 5G DSS, at current frequencies, will automatically accelerate the definitive deployment of 5G, with the subsequent addition of the 3.5 GHz spectrum and millimeter wave bands ”. That is, Claro itself treats the 5G DSS as a pre-5G.
Vivo says 5G DSS does not bring complete experience
The Live states that “the full 5G experience will be achieved with a greater density of sites, connected with a fiber network of the highest capacity and with dedicated frequencies to be auctioned in early 2021”, and that the 5G experience “cannot be felt in its entirety” with spectrum sharing.
Without making much publicity about this, Vivo activated the 5G DSS in July 2020. The coverage covers regions of eight Brazilian capitals: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo.
TIM says “real 5G” only after the auction
TIM president Pietro Labriola said that the “Real 5G” will only exist after the Anatel auction, and that the “5G of marketing arrives as soon as possible”.
The operator must adopt the 5G DSS in the municipalities of Bento Gonçalves (RS), Itajubá (MG) and Três Lagoas (MS), but the service will be dedicated to residential broadband, in the FWA (fixed wireless access) model.
Oi activates 5G with dedicated spectrum in Brasilia
In a different strategy from the competitors, Oi activated its 5G pilot in Brasília without dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). The company dedicated 10 MHz of its 2.1 GHz license to cover 80% of the city of Brasília.
The operator claims to have reached speeds of 500 Mb / s in its tests. To use the service, just have a compatible device and be in the 5G coverage area.
When will we have the “real 5G” in Brazil?
Anatel’s frequency auction should only take place in the first quarter of 2021, and details such as coverage targets or the correct municipal schedule have not yet been revealed.
If the auction is no longer delayed, operators are expected to launch their networks at 3.5 GHz frequency by the end of 2021. A possible ban on Huawei equipment could further delay the start of these operations, as companies will have to buy new equipment for the areas served by the Chinese supplier.