3G UMTS WCDMA Frequency Bands & UARFCN

- there are many UMTS WCDMA frequency bands around the globe used which fall within internationally agreed allocations. The channels are given a UARFCN which uniquely defines the frequency channel or frequency band..

There are very many frequency bands that are used to carry the 3G UMTS transmissions.

These frequency bands are allocated on an international basis to enable roaming and also to allocate bands internationally to minimise interference.

UMTS frequency bands background

As the use of 3G UMTS has grown, so too has the requirement for frequency allocations. Initially bands in the region of 1885 - 2025 and 2110 - 2200 MHz were set aside.

These frequency bands were originally set aside at the World Administrative radio Conference in 1992, to enable use on a worldwide basis by administrations wishing to implement International Mobile Telecommunications-2000, IMT-2000.

As the requirement for additional spectrum grew with the increased use of 3G UMTS, more allocations were set aside.

Although not all bands are available in all countries, all bands are managed on an international basis. In this way roaming is possible.

3G UMTS bandwidth

UMTS uses wideband CDMA as the radio transport mechanism and the UMTS channels are spaced by 5 MHz.

The UMTS signal bandwidth is normally considered to be 5 MHz but this figure includes the 0.58 MHz guard bands either side.

Therefore when the two guard bands, one either side, are excluded this leaves and effective signal bandwidth of 3.84 MHz within the flat response area of the signal for the transmission itself.

It is also necessary to consider the roll-off factor for the signal of 0.22. This roll-off factor is determined by the Root Raised Cosine filter specified by 3GPP. This means that the total signal bandwidth increasing the skirts is 4.68 MHz.

It is also worth noting that the bandwidth used for the TD-SCDMA variant of 3G UMTS used in China is 1.6 MHz.

UARFCN channel numbers

UMTS carrier frequencies are designated by a UTRA Absolute Radio Frequency Channel Number, UARFCN. The UARFCN is used to define channel numbers in an easy and unambiguous fashion.

The UARFCN can be easily calculated from the following equation or formula:

Formula to calculate the 3G UMTS UARFCN channel number

The UARFCN is only able to represent channels that are centred on a multiple of 200 kHz and these do not always align with licensing in North America. Accordingly 3GPP added several special values for the common North American channels.

3G UMTS frequency bands - FDD

As FDD, frequency division duplex requires bands for uplink and downlink, the bands for FDD are different to those required for TDD time division duplex.

The main UMTS / WCDMA frequency bands for FDD operation are summarised below:

3G UMTS Frequency Bands - FDD
Band Number Band Common Name UL Frequencies DL Frequencues
1 2100 IMT 1920 - 1980 2120 - 2170
2 1900 PCS A-F 1850 - 1910 1930 - 1990
3 1800 DCS 1710 - 1785 1805 - 1880
4 1700 AWS A-F 1710 - 1755 2110 - 2155
5 850 CLR 824 - 849 869 - 894
6 800 830 - 840 875 - 885
7 2600 IMT-E 2500 - 2570 2620 - 2690
8 900 E-GSM 880 - 915 925 - 960
9 1700 1749.9 - 1784.9 1844.9 - 1879.9
10 1700 EAWS A-G 1710 - 1770 2110 - 2170
11 1500 LPDC 1427.9 - 1447.9 1475.9 - 1495.9
12 700 LSMH 699 - 716 729 - 746
13 700 USMH C 777 - 787 746 - 756
14 700 USMH D 788 - 798 758 - 768
19 800 832.4 - 842.6 877.4 - 887.6
20 800 EUDD 832 - 862 791 - 821
21 1500 UPDC 1447.9 - 1462.9 1495 - 1510.9
22 3500 3410 - 3490 3510 - 3590
25 1900 EPCS A-G 1850 - 1915 1930 - 1995
26 850 ECLR 814 - 849 859 - 894

Frequency bands 15, 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24 are now reserved frequency bands.

3G UMTS frequency bands - TDD

The main UMTS frequency bands for TDD operation are summarised below.

3G UMTS Frequency Bands - TDD
Band Reference Band Name Frequencies
A Lower IMT 1900 - 1920
A Upper IMT 2010 - 2025
B Lower PCS 1850 - 1910
B Upper PCS 1930 - 1990
C PCS duplex gap 1910 - 1930
D IMT-E 2570 - 2620
E 2300 - 2400
F 1880 - 1920

It is also noted that several of the UMTS frequency bands overlap or share similar frequencies. This is because the allocations are different in different areas, and each frequency band definition is given a new band number for that particular band.

By Ian Poole


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