5G spectrum positions offer a roadmap for regulators

06 November 2018

The GSMA’s key 5G spectrum positions focus on the areas where governments, regulators and the mobile industry should cooperate to make this next-generation network technology a success.

5G will support significantly faster mobile broadband speeds. The technology will also help enable the full potential of the Internet of Things.

From virtual reality and autonomous cars, to the industrial internet and smart cities, 5G will be at the heart of the future of communications. Today’s most popular mobile applications – including on-demand video – also stand to benefit from 5G by ensuring continued growth and quality.

The mobile industry, academic institutions and international standards-making bodies are busily developing the technologies that will be central to 5G. Despite that, the success of the services will also be heavily reliant on national governments and regulators.

Most notably, the speed, reach and quality of 5G services will be heavily dependent on governments and regulator support. Also, they need to provide timely access to the right amount and type of spectrum, and under the right conditions.

The GSMA’s key positions are:

1. 5G needs a significant amount of new harmonised mobile spectrum. Regulators should aim to make available 80-100 MHz of contiguous spectrum per operator in prime 5G mid-bands (e.g. 3.5 GHz) and around 1 GHz per operator in millimetre wave bands (i.e. above 24 GHz).

2. 5G needs spectrum within three key frequency ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases. The three ranges are: Sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz.

3. WRC-19 will be vital to realise the ultra-high-speed vision for 5G, and government backing for the mobile industry is needed during the whole process. The GSMA recommends supporting the 26 GHz, 40 GHz and 66-71 GHz bands for mobile.

4. Exclusively licensed spectrum should remain the core 5G spectrum management approach. Spectrum sharing and unlicensed bands can play a complementary role.

5. Setting spectrum aside for verticals in priority 5G bands could jeopardise the success of public 5G services and may waste spectrum. Sharing approaches like leasing are better options where verticals require access to spectrum.

6. Governments and regulators should avoid inflating 5G spectrum prices (e.g. through excessive reserve prices or annual fees) as they risk limiting network investment and driving up the cost of services.

7. Regulators must consult 5G stakeholders to ensure spectrum awards and licensing approaches consider technical and commercial deployment plans.

8. Governments and regulators need to adopt national spectrum policy measures to encourage long-term heavy investments in 5G networks (e.g. long-term licences, clear renewal process, spectrum roadmap etc).

Finally, click here to download the updated full position paper in English, Spanish or French. There is also an infographic that sums up 5G spectrum needs.

And go here to find the GSMA’s 5G spectrum guide.