Russia Reserves 3.5GHz Band for the Military, Not 5G

Russia has pulled away from using 3.5GHz as a 5G spectrum band, instead reserving it for military use, just as initial millimeter-wave 5G deployments start in Moscow.

President Putin has reportedly reserved the 3.4-3.8GHz band for military and intelligence uses, rather than 5G, The Moscow Times reports. Russia's Communications Ministry has proposed using the 4.4GHz-4.99GHz for mid-band 5G instead.

The 3.5GHz band is expected to be widely used for 5G as it is deployed in 2020. South Korea has already rolled nationwide 5G on 3.5GHz.

Like initial 5G deployments in the US from AT&T and Verizon, however, Russian carriers will use millimeter wave for 5G service in Moscow. Initially, it will use the technology to cover high-trafficked areas like Red Square.

The first Russian 5G zone was deployed by Ericsson earlier this month by Ericsson and Tele2. It uses 28GHz non-standalone (NSA) 5G to provide connectivity in Tverskaya Street between Red Square and Sadovoe Ring.

"In the near future, Muscovites will be able to see for themselves what 5G will bring to the daily life, entertainment and development of smart city," Tele2 Russia CEO Sergey Emdin said of the launch in a statement.

Qualcomm is also working to deploy millimeter 5G in Moscow.

The Department for Information Technologies of Moscow is working with Qualcomm, various equipment manufacturers and Russian carriers -- including Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Tele2 -- for mmWave 5G trials in Moscow in the fall, with an initial launch planned in 2020.

Why this matters
Russia's move away from the 3.5GHz band will mean that it will run 5G on a different band, or bands, compared to what's used in most of Europe and parts of Asia. This will make 3.5GHz less of a prospective global band as the technology becomes more prevalent.

High-band millimeter wave will be impractical for anything but 5G deployments in small parts of major cities because of the range that the higher frequency covers (1,000 to 2,000 feet).

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