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GSMA Requests Governments, Regulators Collaboration on a Global Spectrum Plan

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The GSMA has requested that governments and regulators around the world commit to supporting the needs of 5G in the lead-up to the World Radio communication Conference in 2019 (WRC-19). 5G can create a ‘hyper-connected’ society, supporting the varying needs of a hugely diverse set of connections, from industrial machinery in factories to automated vehicles, as well as rapidly growing services such as on-demand video.

“Although the mobile industry, academic institutions and international standards-making bodies are developing the technologies central to 5G, success will depend heavily on affordable access to the necessary amount of spectrum,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA.

“It is essential that sufficient new mobile spectrum is made available – and that operators are allowed to repurpose existing spectrum for 5G when required. Governments are central to the WRC-19 process to identify harmonized spectrum for 5G and incentivize the necessary network investment.”

Ultra-fast 5G services will require such large amounts of spectrum that governments and regulators are already looking at significantly higher frequencies than those traditionally used in mobile services. While this work is critical, the GSMA has highlighted that mobile spectrum must be quickly identified within three key frequency ranges – including traditional low frequency bands – to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases. The three ranges are: Sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz:

– Sub-1 GHz will support widespread coverage across urban, suburban and rural areas and help support Internet of Things (IoT) services.

– The 1-6 GHz range offers a good mixture of coverage and capacity benefits, including spectrum within the 3.3-3.8 GHz range that is expected to form the basis of many initial 5G services.

– Above 6 GHz is needed to meet the ultra-high broadband speeds envisioned for 5G; a focus will be on bands above 24 GHz.

Policy Recommendations to Ensure the 5G Future

In a new 5G spectrum position paper published today, the GSMA outlined several recommendations that will enable the mobile industry to secure the necessary spectrum required for 5G, including:

1. Harmonized high-frequency mobile spectrum is needed to ensure 5G services meet future expectations: Global governments need to collaborate on a harmonized approach as 5G services will require large amounts of spectrum. Without making these higher frequency bands available for 5G, it may not be possible to deliver a step change in mobile broadband speeds and support rapidly growing mobile data traffic, especially in busy urban areas.

2. Governments need to adopt national policy measures to encourage long-term heavy investment in 5G networks: Deployments will require significant network investment given the very large number of small cell sites needed to deliver ultra-high speeds. The speed of rollouts, quality of service and coverage levels will all be compromised without government encouragement. Governments need to review and take appropriate action on policy measures at a national level to future-proof networks to accommodate 5G.

3. WRC-19 will be vital to realize the ultra-high-speed vision for 5G and low-cost devices: Governments and regulators hold the key to enabling the fastest 5G speeds, low-cost devices and international roaming and minimizing cross-border interference. They need to plan for the future, supporting 5G spectrum in the run-up to and at WRC-19. If governments fail to agree a common set of bands, then 5G spectrum could become fragmented, which could drive up device costs and undermine access to widespread, affordable 5G.

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