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  • “3GPP Spectrum Access Evolution Towards 5G” – a survey paper co-authored by Grandmetric

    “3GPP Spectrum Access Evolution Towards 5G” – a survey paper co-authored by Grandmetric

    Date: 13.03.2017

    Category: 5G, Mobile Networks

    Towards 5G

    The survey article co-authored by Grandmetric and Movilo, “3GPP Spectrum Access Evolution Towards 5G“, Michal Szydelko and Marcin Dryjanski [1], presents the evolution of:

    • EUTRA frequency bands,
    • Spectrum aggregation mechanisms,
    • Spectrum licensing,
    • Duplexing schemes,
    • Spectrum sharing,
    • Spectrum refarming techniques,

    within 3GPP, with the focus on LTE-Advanced Pro [2] and beyond.

    Note: this article reflects the standardization state as of 04.2016 when the article was submitted, while its publication date is 02.2017.

    Example Features of Spectrum Toolbox [3]

    The article evaluates the different features and frequency bands supported by the Spectrum Toolbox, an example of advantages and disadvantages is shown below for certain features.

    Feature Advantages and opportunities Disadvantages and challenges
    Carrier Aggregation
    • Improves user throughput and cell capacity
    • Possibility to aggregate different spectrum bands
    • Extension beyond single carrier allocation
    • MAC layer management
    • Not possible to aggregate spectrum in non‑ideal backhaul RRH deployments
    • Scheduler complexity (CA and non-CA users)
    • Multiple market-specific CA band combinations
    Massive Carrier Aggregation
    • Extension up to 32 CCs
    • Enables to acquire multitude of bands and BWs to increase capacity and mix licensed with unlicensed bands
    • Complex management
    • Complexity of RF chains
    • UE support to be limiting factor
    Supplemental Downlink
    • Possibility to adapt aggregated capacity to the required DL/UL demand
    • Aggregation and management on MAC
    • Feature limited by the available SDL-specific bands
    • CA-based operation only
    Dual Connectivity
    • Adds spectrum aggregation opportunity for non-ideal backhaul inter-site
    • Enables CP / UP split
    • Possible to combine with CA
    • Enables extension to aggregate multi‑RAT aggregation on PDCP level
    • Not possible to allocate resources on MAC level
    • May have problems at anchor cell boundary due to both Macro and SC change
    • Requires an additional scheduler

    Evolution Towards 5G [1]

    3GPP work on 5G Air Interface (NR) covers to a large extent the Spectrum Toolbox’s features, in which the NR is expected to [4]:

    • Cover frequencies to up to 100GHz,
    • Act as a framework jointly addressing all use cases including: enhanced Mobile Broadband, massive MTC and ultra-reliable communications,
    • Be forward compatible to enable easy introduction of new features,
    • Be tightly integrated with LTE and make interworking with Wi-Fi possible,
    • Enable operation in licensed, licensed-shared and license-assisted bands.


    [1] M. Szydelko, M. Dryjanski, “Spectrum Toolbox Survey: Evolution Towards 5G”, EAI Endorsed Transactions on Cognitive Communications, Vol. 3, Issue 10 (doi: 10.4108/eai.23-2-2017.152184) “Copyright © 2017 M. Szydelko and M. Dryjanski, licensed to EAI. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unlimited use, distribution and reproduction in any medium so long as the original work is properly cited.”

    [2] LTE-Advanced Pro is discussed also in:

    [3] Spectrum Toolbox has been originally presented in Spectrum toolbox evolution towards 5G (conference paper)

    [4] 3GPP, RP-160671, “Study on NR New Radio Access Technology”, (2016)


    Marcin Dryjanski, Ph.D.

    Marcin Dryjanski received his Ph.D. in telecommunications from the Poznan University of Technology in September 2019. During the past 15 years, Marcin has served as R&D Engineer, Lead Researcher, R&D Consultant, Technical Trainer, Technical Leader and Board Member. He has been providing expert-level courses in the area of 5G/LTE/LTE-Advanced for leading mobile operators and vendors. In addition to that, Marcin was a work-package leader in EU-funded research projects aiming at radio interface design for 5G including FP-7 5GNOW and FP-7 SOLDER. He co-authored a number of research papers targeting 5G radio interface design and a book "From LTE to LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G" published by Artech House. Marcin is co-founder of Grandmetric and co-founder and CEO at Rimedo Labs, currently focusing on Open RAN systems.

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