GSMA: Global Growth Threatened in Battle for Airwaves

GSMA Warns $565bn of Economic Benefits are at Risk as 5G’s Future hangs in the Balance at WRC-19

London – An economic report by the GSMA reveals that releasing 5G mmWave capacity will create $565bn of economic expansion. This figure represents 2.9% of global GDP growth by 2034. And it points to a huge impact on developing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America.

The GSMA’s research into the global reach of 5G technology highlights a $5.2bn boost to GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa over the period. South East Asia will see a huge $45bn rise in GDP and Latin America will benefit by $20.8bn.

All of this economic growth hinges on the availability of access to a specific strand of radio waves, known as millimetre waves. This economically-critical spectrum and the 5G services it will enable are under threat due to a territorial dispute triggered by the space industry. The 5G mmWave spectrum will be allocated at an international treaty conference in less than 100 days’ time.

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19, from 28 Oct to 22 Nov) will see 3000 delegates from over 190 nations meeting in Egypt to agree on how radiowave capacity will be used. Some in the space industry are determined to limit mobile use of airwaves that 5G requires to reach its full potential. This protectionist attitude is ringing alarm bells throughout the mobile communications world.

“We can’t let misinformation and the overly protectionist attitudes of the space industry derail the 5G revolution,” says Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA. “Over-stringent protection will limit the spectrum needed for 5G and have huge consequences for society. This could put the economic and innovation bonanza accompanying ultra-fast networks on hold for a generation.”

Brett Tarnutzer stresses that this argument has profound implications for huge swathes of humanity. “Billions of citizens are counting on more innovation and more investments in their future economic prosperity to improve their lives. The benefits of 5G are truly global and the outcome of this fight matters to us all.”  Time is running out to secure these benefits says Mr Tarnutzer. “WRC-19 is a critical moment for administrations to secure mmWave spectrum for future use and guarantee delivery of 5G-enabled services in their countries.”

New Report Highlights 5G mmWave Role in Global Economic Growth
A new report released by the GSMA today, “Regional Spotlights: Impact of 5G mmWave”, explores the impact of 5G mmWave on emerging economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Latin America.

It reveals the benefits on 5G mmWave will be felt across industries and explores exciting new 5G use cases. Energy production, transportation, professional services, mining and healthcare all require this technology. The GSMA report raises serious concerns that without adequate support at WRC-19, the deployment of these essential 5G services may be delayed for up to a decade.

The GSMA’s new “Regional Spotlights: Impact of 5G mmWave” report is available here.

The GSMA’s “Study on Socio-Economic Benefits of 5G Services Provided in mmWave Bands”, which reveals the full global impact of mmWave spectrum is available here.


About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

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