Mid-band 5G spectrum crucial to economic growth in the Asia Pacific

A recent data from GSMA Intelligence shows, for the first time, the specific economic impact of 5G using mid-band spectrum. The Asia-Pacific region is an early leader in 5G development and will use 5G connectivity as a powerful driver of GDP growth throughout the decade. Mid-band 5G’s impact on the Asia-Pacific economy will reach $285bn in 2030, helped by early spectrum assignments for 5G networks.

As the region seeks to emerge from the uncertain environment of the pandemic, mobile will continue to have a role to play in connecting a brighter future. Productivity gains made in the 2010s, through the development of 4G, helped the world to teach, talk, carry out transactions and do business more efficiently. Today these benefits are bound tightly into regional economies and a new phase of development can now come from the deep integration of 5G into our lives, societies as well as businesses.

The GSMA study outlines how, with the right regulatory tools, 5G can become a central pillar of APAC economic development strategies. Its benefit to sectors such as manufacturing, services – including healthcare and education – and public administration – including smart cities – can start a new wave of economic growth.

Spectrum capacity for GDP impact

Beyond the potential economic benefits, GSMA Intelligence also analysed the impact if capacity needs of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum are not met. The analysis shows that, under spectrum constrained to today’s assignments, up to 40% of economic impact could be lost.

If spectrum is limited to current levels as demand for services grows, increased network congestion and deployment costs will stifle 5G. Network quality and speed will suffer, limiting 5G adoption and its economic impact.

An average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum for mobile operators is required by 2030. That goal leaves a shortfall of 1.15 GHz beyond today’s average assignments in APAC. However, the region as a whole is starting to move closer to the 2 GHz figure and as the 5G-leading markets in East Asia maximise existing harmonised bands, mirroring this progress throughout the region is crucial.

The lack of licensed 6 GHz 5G in the region makes meeting mid-band capacity needs a challenge. The 6 GHz range delivers citywide capacity, providing the perfect environment to expand 5G connectivity. Extending the bandwidth of 5G through the harmonisation of 6 GHz spectrum will improve network performance, allowing businesses and economies to grow.

Manufacturing delivers 5G promise

The manufacturing sector in the region in particular is expected to benefit from 5G, as the country presents a rich environment of high-tech manufacturing companies that will rapidly integrate new 5G applications into their business.

It is well-placed to take advantage of the expanding deployment of 5G and the services and opportunities that will arise from pervasive and ubiquitous connectivity. Predictive maintenance, machine vision and XR are all elements of a wide range of 5G applications that manufacturing can exploit.

The coming years will decide the extent to which 5G can deliver on its promise. Spectrum is required to provide fast, affordable services. Governments and industry need to work together on this – through WRC-23 and in national processes – to ensure that 5G can power a new phase of economic growth.

To find out more about the socio-economic benefits of mid-band 5G services, download the report here.