Why 100MHz in 5G is more efficient than 100MHz in LTE?
August 12, 2023

5G defines the use of wide radio channels. Whereas 4G is limited to a maximum radio channel size of 20 MHz, 5G standards specify the use of radio channels up to 100 MHz in frequency bands below 7 GHz and up to 400 MHz in mmWave radio channels at 24 GHz and higher. Beyond these wide channels, 5G can aggregate radio channels for a total bandwidth of 800 MHz.

5G Spectrum Bands

With a 100 MHz radio channel, an operator can deliver peak throughput rates of 1 Gbps and average throughput rates of 100s of Mbps. Organizations globally agree with the need for wide channels. The European CEPT Electronic Communications Committee states, “Large bandwidths of 80–100 MHz contiguous spectrum are considered by the industry as important to deliver high throughput 5G services in the 3400–3800 MHz frequency band.”

Given a certain amount of overhead in using any radio channel, including guard bands as shown in the below figure, the wider the radio channel, the smaller the percentage of radio resource that the overhead consumes.

Transmission Bandwidth and Guard Bands (Source: 3GPP)

Thus, Wider channels are spectrally more efficient.


Due to the guard band overhead, the below table shows how a 5G 100 MHz radio channel uses 98.3% of the radio resource whereas a 20 MHz radio uses only 91.8%.

Radio Resource Utilization as Function of Channel Bandwidth

The same increased utilization of the radio resource is true in 4G LTE, in which a 20 MHz radio channel is more efficient than lower bandwidths.

LTE Efficiency Relative to 20 MHz Bandwidth

As per GSMA, the cost per MHz of 100 MHz can be 70% lower than with a 20 MHz wide channel.34 Consumers and enterprises both benefit from the resulting more affordable broadband services

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