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Spectrum toolbox evolution towards 5G (conference paper)

Category: 5G, Mobile Networks


This short overview on the Spectrum Toolbox is based on the article “Spectrum Toolbox Survey: Evolution Towards 5G[1], by Michal Szydelko and Marcin Dryjanski that will be presented on the Conference on Cognitive Radio Oriented Wireless Networks (CROWNCOM 2016), held this month in Grenoble, France.

Note: This post is prepared with Michal Szydelko, who is the founder of Movilo Ltd. (

Figure below presents an example of the Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) comprising of macro- and Small Cell (SC) layers, accompanied with various spectrum access techniques, including e.g. Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Dual Connectivity (DC) covering both, licensed and unlicensed frequency bands.


Towards 5G

Spectrum Toolbox covers the available frequency bands, spectrum aggregation mechanisms, licensing and duplexing schemes, as well as spectrum sharing and refarming techniques. Spectrum Toolbox evolution over the LTE releases is summarized in the table below[2].

3GPP release LTE:
Rel-8, 9
Rel-10, 11, 12
LTE-A Pro:
Rel-13, 14
5G phase I:
Rel-155G phase II:
Frequency bands [GHz] 0.7, 0.8, 1.8, 2.1, 2.3-2.4, 2.5-2.6GHz 0.45 (Brazil),

Digital Dividend, 1.5, 3.4-3.8GHz


WRC-15 bands

New bands below 6GHz for 5G RAT;

mmW: 6-100GHz;

WRC-15/19 bands


Spectrum aggregation Single Carrier (1.4-20MHz),

Symmetric DL/UL

Dual Connectivity,

CA variants:

– up to 5CC,

– intra-/ inter-band,

– (non)continuous,

– FDD and/or TDD

– Co-located, RRH;

– asymmetric DL/UL


Massive CA (32CC), LAA (5GHz), LWA, eLWA, SDL for CA:


Multi-Connectivity with asymmetric DL/UL,

SDL for CA: 700MHz, 2.5-2.6GHz,

Lean carrier

Spectrum licensing schemes Licensed spectrum only Licensed,
Carrier Wi-Fi
Licensed, Unlicensed, DL LAA, LWA, LSA, eLWA Co-existence of: exclusive licensed, shared license-exempt spectrum, enhanced LAA (DL+UL)


Duplexing schemes Separate FDD, TDD FDD and TDD (CA-based),



FDD Flexible Duplex Full Duplex,

Additional DL-only TDD configurations

Sharing schemes Static schemes (MOCN, MORAN) Static schemes (MOCN, MORAN) RSE, LSA LSA (new bands),

SC sharing, SCaaS, spectrum trading, Cognitive Radio


Spectrum refarming Static Static Dynamic Spectrum Allocation, Multi-RAT Joint Coordination Fully dynamic, opportunistic, Cognitive Radio



Spectrum Toolbox includes a wide set of bands ranging from 450MHz up to 100GHz with licensed and unlicensed spectrum, covering different licensing options, as well as different access schemes, Bandwidth aggregation mechanisms, duplexing and RATs. On top of that, 5G requirements target tight integration of all these elements to unify the operation of the next generation mobile systems and to provide the possibility to adapt to different use cases and scenarios that will further complicate the overall landscape.

In order to enable efficient usage of new spectrum licensing schemes (like LSA), considering scenarios which are evolving towards Ultra Dense Networks (UDN), the radio resources coordination shall be addressed on multiple levels, namely inter-MNO, inter-RAT, inter-site, inter-layer, inter-band dimensions. To achieve this, it is already obvious that the high level flexibility in the RF domain will be required. Additionally, high level of “programmability” of the baseband units will be needed, relying on Software Defined Networking (SDN) techniques, leading to dynamic spectrum access. On top of that, the overall design of future networks should natively incorporate SON engines, to manage the network towards unified user experience provided across multiple converged radio access technologies.

For more, see you in Grenoble!


[NOTE] The conference summary and the slideset on the above discussion is provided under: “Spectrum sharing, management, policies, “5G” and more… – CROWNCOM 2016 conference summary”



[1] M. Szydelko, M. Dryjanski, “Spectrum Toolbox Survey: Evolution Towards 5G”, 11th EAI International Conference on Cognitive Radio Oriented Wireless Networks (CROWNCOM), Track on Standards, Policies and Business Models, May 2016, Grenoble, France

[2] For the elaborations on the individual aspects, we kindly invite all the interested readers to join us during the conference! The full article will be available after the conference in the IEEE Explore.





Marcin Dryjanski, Ph.D.

Marcin Dryjanski received his M.Sc. degree in telecommunications from the Poznan University of Technology in Poland in June 2008 and Ph.D. in September 2019. During the past 8 years, Marcin has served as R&D Engineer, Lead Researcher, R&D Consultant, Technical Trainer and Technical Leader. He has been providing expert level courses in the area of LTE/LTE-Advanced for leading mobile operators and vendors. Marcin provides consulting services to business projects in the area of 5G related topics. In addition to that, Marcin was a workpackage 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. To contact Marcin please write to:


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