Vodafone and Huawei completed a 70GHz 5G field test in Newbury, UK, reaching data rates of more than 20Gb/s, and supporting multiple users at 10Gb/s each.

This demonstrated the possibility of delivering an “extremely high level” of performance for an individual link, such as backhauling data between two locations, or supporting a large number of connections in small areas, explained David Lister, 5G research manager, Vodafone Group.

He said that bands above 24GHz is where 5G will deliver the highest data rates and 70GHz in particular can increase range, performance and capacity.

At the moment, mobile networks use bands below 3GHz, which is best for providing coverage over large areas but limits bandwidth because typical allocations of spectrum to an operator in each of these bands is less than 20MHz.

However, high frequency bands are not without engineering challenges. For instance, the radio signal is less capable of penetrating obstructions and the radio beams must be able to track the location of a device that is moving quickly.

Super high frequency bands are expected to form much of the spectrum allocation for future 5G services. Japan’s NTT DoCoMo has already tested millimeter-wavelength signals in the 70GHz band as part of its 5G vendor trials with Nokia. And last week US regulator FCC opened up some 11GHz of spectrum for potential 5G use, with 3.85GHz of licensed and 7GHz of unlicensed frequencies, across the 28GHz, 37GHz and 39GHz bands, as well as new unlicensed bands at 64GHz-71GHz.

Mobile operators are hoping that 5G spectrum harmonisation will form a major part of the agenda at the World Radio Congress in 2019.