Managing Spectrum

Managing Spectrum – Making the Most of a Valuable Resource

The GSMA’s mission is to help governments and regulators manage spectrum in a fair and transparent way to maximise societal benefits.

Mobile networks are the fastest and most affordable way of connecting people to voice and data services all over the world. Effective spectrum management is critical to realise the full potential of mobile broadband. Without it, mobile operators can’t meet the rapid increase in demand for higher speeds and better coverage

The basic tenants of a successful managing spectrum successfully are ensuring access to sufficient spectrum, providing predictability and avoiding costly restrictions.

When it comes to awarding spectrum, there is no single best approach. Whether an auction or another method (such as administrative assignment) is adopted, the implementation of the approach is important.

Encouraging efficient use

Successful spectrum management is a long-term effort. The primary goal in all spectrum awards should be to encourage efficient spectrum use and the significant investment necessary to provide high-quality mobile services. When done right, mobile operators can feel safe to make investments to improve coverage and speeds This, in turn, leads to huge benefits for the whole of society.

What is a spectrum license?

Spectrum licences for mobile telecommunications define the frequency band, geographic reach and duration of spectrum usage rights. They may also include conditions such as fees and charges, network coverage and roll-out requirements, and technical or service parameters. All of these parameters have a major effect on how mobile networks are rolled out. Spectrum should be made available in a fair, transparent and predictable way. If this is done over the long term, operators can feel safe to make investments, which, in turn, can lead to massive benefits for the whole of society.

Why do all countries need a spectrum roadmaps?

Mobile operators need assurances that a sufficient amount of spectrum in the right mixture of bands will be made available over a long period to give them the certainty needed to make long-term heavy investment in national mobile networks. This means regulators should publish, and regularly update, a spectrum roadmap for at least the following five years detailing how much is planned to be made available in what bands and when.

Why is spectrum pricing important?

How regulators decide to price licensed spectrum bands has a big impact on the evolution of mobile services. It is essential that prices are not excessive in order to drive the necessary network investment to provide excellent service coverage and capacity. Reasonable spectrum prices also encourage participation in competitive auctions thus supporting a competitive marketplace. Regulators can help by setting reasonable auction reserves and annual spectrum fees, designing fair auctions and not artificially restricting supply.

Read more about the importance of spectrum pricing here.

How does harmonisation impact mobile services?

Spectrum harmonisation refers to the uniform allocation of radio frequency bands across entire regions — not just individual countries. Uniform allocation comes with many advantages; it minimises radio interference along borders, facilitates international roaming and reduces the cost of mobile devices. Without spectrum harmonisation it’s unlikely that mobile would have become the success it is today.