5G spectrum positions offer a roadmap for regulators
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 supports 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 benefit from 5G by ensuring continued growth and quality.
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 5G spectrum positions are:
1. 5G needs a significant amount of new harmonised mobile spectrum so defragmenting and clearing prime bands should be prioritised. Regulators should aim to make available 80-100 MHz of contiguous spectrum per operator in prime mid-bands (e.g. 3.5 GHz) and around 1 GHz per operator in high-bands (e.g. mmWave spectrum).
2. Spectrum is needed across low, mid and high ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases.
3. WRC-23 will be an essential opportunity to improve 5G coverage, increase affordability through harmonisation and support growing data demand. Governments should engage in the WRC-23 process to ensure that sufficient mid- and low-band spectrum is made available for 5G.
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 (i.e. 3.5/26/28 GHz) 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 as this risks limiting network investment and driving up the cost of services. This includes excessive reserve prices or annual fees, limiting spectrum supply (e.g. set-asides), excessive obligations and poor auction design.
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 networks (e.g. long-term licences, clear renewal process, roadmap etc).