Mobile networks must continue to evolve to close the connectivity gap, respond to skyrocketing data traffic growth and deliver on the immense potential of the nascent Internet of Things industry. All of these elements will also be key pillars of the 5G mobile future.
To support this evolution, mobile operators need access to sufficient, internationally harmonised spectrum. Effective spectrum licensing plays a key role in providing operators with access to this necessary resource. If structured correctly, licensing can help the industry attract the investment needed to further expand mobile access and enhance the quality and range of services delivered to businesses and consumers.
All of this starts with solid planning. To encourage substantial investment in mobile services, it is important to have a transparent, long-term broadband plan that includes a strategy for making sufficient amounts of spectrum available to the mobile industry. This gives key backers, including the mobile operators themselves, the certainty that their investments are safe and that the government is creating a positive regulatory environment to allow the industry to innovate and thrive.
Spectrum pricing also has a significant impact on investment, and ultimately on mobile services. Governments that seek to maximise state revenues from spectrum pricing, for example, risk much greater costs to society if competition in communications markets is undermined and with the result that network investment is stifled. To ensure widespread, high-quality affordable services, it is essential that a sufficient amount of spectrum is released for mobile use — especially Digital Dividend spectrum — with fair access prices.
The GSMA is very active at national, regional and global levels in advocating for the timely identification and release of more spectrum for mobile broadband. We work with national governments and regulators, regional organisations and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
With the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) on the horizon, governments should build upon the foundations of previous conferences to identify sufficient mobile spectrum to support the future of the digital society.
The work centred around Agenda Item 1.13 will look at spectrum for mobile broadband in frequencies between 24.25 and 86 GHz, making WRC-19 essential to fully realising the 5G vision. A successful identification of a significant amount of new widely harmonised spectrum for international mobile telecommunication (IMT) is vital to realise the full potential of mobile 5G networks.