New Spectrum For Mobile Would Help Close Digital Divide

GSMA calls on World Radiocommunication Conference to reserve spectrum for mobile broadband

The GSM Association, the global trade association for mobile operators, has called on the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), which begins in Geneva today, to identify approximately 100MHz of the spectrum currently used for analogue television for mobile broadband services. The GSMA believes this spectrum will be necessary to ensure that hundreds of millions people around the world, who live beyond the reach of today’s fixed networks, will gain access to cost-effective broadband services.

The switchover to digital television will release so-called Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spectrum in the 470MHz to 806/862 MHz band, in which radio waves can travel further and deeper within buildings than is the case in existing mobile spectrum bands. These characteristics would help operators to achieve much broader and more cost-effective mobile broadband coverage, particularly in rural areas.

“By reserving a chunk of the analogue TV spectrum for mobile broadband, the world’s governments could take a major step towards closing the digital divide between those who enjoy high-speed access to multimedia services today and the many people who can’t yet be economically served by broadband networks,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSMA. “It is important that the world’s governments set aside this spectrum in a harmonised way, enabling handset makers to achieve economies of scale, thereby reducing the cost of access devices for consumers.”

“Mobile networks, not fixed, are the only economically-viable way to bring broadband services to most of the world’s people,” said Naguib Sawiris, CEO of Orascom Telecom. “But the mobile industry can only deliver broadband services across rural areas if it has access to much more spectrum in the low-frequency bands.”

“The only way to deliver economically-viable broadband services to large swathes of India’s population will be via wireless networks, operating in one of the low-frequency bands to be vacated by the switchover to digital television,” said Mr. Sunil Mittal, Chairman & Group CEO, Bharti Enterprises. “It is important that this band is internationally harmonised, and this WRC offers our best chance of achieving this. Without harmonisation, consumers will have to pay much more for access devices.”

“The WRC is a golden opportunity for the World’s governments to act together to make it possible for broadband to become a mass-market service in both developed and developing countries,” said Arve Johansen, Deputy CEO Telenor Group. “With the right spectrum, mobile networks could enable high-speed Internet access to become available in the many places fixed networks don’t reach.”

The GSMA believes the WRC needs to identify sufficient UHF spectrum for mobile broadband services to ensure that at least 2 x 40 MHz of paired spectrum can be made available. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the GSMA calls on the WRC to identify the 750MHz to 862MHz spectrum band for mobile broadband services, while in the Americas the GSMA believes the 698MHz to 806 MHz band should be identified for mobile broadband. The Asia-Pacific region has the scope to align itself with either Europe, the Middle East and Africa region or the Americas region, enabling the mobile ecosystem to achieve as large as economies of scale as possible.


Notes to Editors:

World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs), which are held every two to three years, are where governments agree the international rules that govern the use of radio spectrum. These conferences are part of a process run by the International Telecommunication Unions (part of the United Nations). The WRCs exist to ensure that radio spectrum can be used for the benefit of all nations, without causing harmful interference.

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About the GSMA:
The GSMA (The GSM Association) is the global trade association representing more than 700 GSM mobile phone operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association’s initiatives as key partners.

For further information contact:
Mark Smith or David Pringle
Tel: +44 78 50 22 97 24 / +44 79 57 55 60 69
Email: [email protected]