GSMA urges regulators to provide sufficient 5G spectrum

08 Nov 2018

The speed, reach and quality of 5G services could suffer significantly in some countries unless regulators ensure operators have access to the required spectrum, the GSMA has warned.

In a new public policy statement, the industry body urged governments, regulators and the mobile industry to work together to ensure 5G delivers on its vast potential.

According to the statement, while governments worldwide have started to auction spectrum for 5G networks, variations in the quantity of spectrum being released for 5G and the onerous conditions imposed in some markets could mean the performance and quality of 5G could vary dramatically between countries.

Early adopter countries with the right policies in place stand to be the first to reap the benefits of 5G, including GDP growth.

But if 5G is to live up to its potential of reaching 1.3 billion connections by 2025 – as predicted by GSMA Intelligence – operators will need to gain access to sufficient spectrum.

Operators urgently need more spectrum to deliver the endless array of services that 5G will enable - our 5G future depends heavily on the decisions governments are making in the next year as we head into WRC-19,” GSMA head of spectrum Brett Tarnutzer said.

“Without strong government support to allocate sufficient spectrum to next generation mobile services, it will be impossible to achieve the global scale that will make 5G affordable and accessible for everyone. There is a real opportunity for innovation from 5G, but this hinges on governments focusing on making enough spectrum available, not maximizing auction revenues for short term gains.”

The GSMA is advising governments and regulators to make around 80MHz-100MHz of spectrum available per operator in 5G mid bands such as 3.5-GHz, and around 1GHz per operator in the key millimeter wave bands.

To achieve widespread coverage and support all use cases, 5G needs spectrum within both the high and mid bands, as well as low-band spectrum below 1-GHz.

Meanwhile a sufficient amount of globally harmonized 5G spectrum in the 26-GHz, 40-GHz and 66-GHz and 71-GHz bands will be critical for enabling the fastest 5G speeds and international roaming, while minimizing cross border interference.

The GSMA is urging global regulators to support these bands at the e World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19).

“Governments and regulators have a major role to play in ensuring that consumers get the best outcome from 5G,” added Tarnutzer.

“Once spectrum is allocated to mobile at WRC, licensing that spectrum at a national level, as history has shown, can take up to 10 years. Therefore, it is essential that governments take the right action now.”

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