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5G services need low cost mobile spectrum Governments warned

Agreements to provide low cost network bandwidth to drive 5G investment are vital and Governments must act GSMA warns – Plus the 8 things that must be done now

By Sam

In a stark warning Governments were told today that the connected world of autonomous cars, smart devices and rich media will only happen if proper international planning and cooperation is undertaken to ensure low cost spectrum is available for 5G networks

The GSMA (Groupe Special Mobile Association) today called on governments and regulators around the world to commit to supporting the needs of 5G in the lead-up to the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 (WRC-19).

The GSMA said licensed spectrum should remain the core 5G spectrum management model with Unlicensed bands can play a complementary role.

It said: “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.”

“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 harmonised spectrum for 5G and incentivise the necessary network investment.”



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In its public policy paper 5G Spectrum, the GSMA said governments and regulators can encourage high levels of investment by:

■ Producing a national broadband plan encompassing 5G which details activities and timeframes

■ Creating a spectrum roadmap (this can happen now for spectrum that is already identified)

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
The GSMA outlined several recommendations that will enable the mobile industry to secure the necessary spectrum required for 5G, including:

  • Significant new widely harmonised mobile spectrum is needed to ensure 5G services meet future expectations and deliver the full range of potential capabilities.

    2. 5G needs spectrum within three key frequency ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases. This includes growing interest in the 24 GHz and/or 28 GHz bands which could be easily implemented together in a single device due to their close proximity. There is also some interest in exploring bands in the 6-24 GHz range.

    3. WRC-19 will be vital to realise the ultra-high-speed vision for 5G with low cost devices.

    4. Licensed spectrum should remain the core 5G spectrum management model. Unlicensed bands can play a complementary role.

    5. There is significant potential for the coexistence of 5G and other wireless services (e.g. satellite and fixed links) in higher frequency bands (e.g. above 24 GHz).

    6. Technology neutral spectrum licences are essential. They allow bands which are used for existing mobile technologies to be easily refarmed for 5G thus ensuring spectrum is used most efficiently.

    7. It is important that governments and regulators successfully support the needs of 5G at international spectrum discussions including WRC-19 and its preparatory meetings. This is essential due to the lengthy timeframes involved in making new mobile spectrum available.

    8. Governments and regulators need to adopt national policy measures to encourage long-term heavy investments in 5G networks.

5g-spectrum-4“The full long-term potential of 5G can only be realised if widely harmonised IMT spectrum is agreed at WRC-19. Equipment using these new bands needs to be developed and built and spectrum licences awarded once the band has been prepared for mobile use. This process is time consuming – it takes many years of preparatory work – so it is imperative governments begin planning well in advance of the outcomes of WRC-19.

“It will be possible to launch 5G services in many cases by using existing mobile broadband spectrum and unlicensed bands. But governments still need to agree their plans on the international stage to create a global low-cost 5G equipment market. However, it is important to note that a reliance on existing mobile bands alone means there is unlikely to be sufficient spectrum to support ultrafast 5G speeds and continued projected mobile data growth,” the paper said.

The GSMA was founded in 1982 and it best known in Europe for its Mobile World Congress conference and exhibition which takes place annually in Barcalona.

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