How regulators can support mobile networks for verticals and MNOs
How can governments and regulators develop spectrum policies that support mobile networks for verticals without negatively impacting commercial 5G services? A new position paper from the GSMA details best practice.
As governments turn their attention to supporting high-speed network rollouts, regulators continually face the daunting challenge of deciding who gets access to spectrum. In the 5G era, we are seeing more competition for access, with some relative newcomers, like manufacturing, wanting in on bands the mobile industry uses (and plans to use) for 4G and 5G.
So, how can regulators support the needs of mobile networks for verticals without negatively impacting commercial 5G service? It can actually be very straightforward. Mobile operators already support verticals and can deliver private networks with dedicated spectrum where needed. Regulators can also tailor their normal award approach to meet the needs of verticals without undermining 5G more widely. The Finnish regulator assigned the whole of the 3.5 GHz band to mobile operators. To support vertical industries, it included a regulatory framework that sets the stage for effective collaboration with mobile operators.
Planning is vital
Also, the risks related to setting aside 5G spectrum are clear. It will be vital for regulators to assess their options and consult with the stakeholders to devise an approach that can suit everyone. It is important to note that in countries with little available mid-band spectrum, the risks of are especially grave. Mobile operators could quite simply be left without enough spectrum to meet 5G expectations.
In short, regulators need to proceed with caution and avoid unnecessary risks. The GSMA’s positions on mobile networks for verticals discuss the options and the risks, as well as propose best practice.
The positions are:
- Commercial mobile operators support the needs of a wide variety of vertical sectors and will have added capabilities with 5G;
- Spectrum leasing or, when carefully planned, other types of spectrum sharing can be viable options for supporting verticals who want to build private networks;
- Spectrum that is set-aside exclusively for verticals in core mobile bands risks being underused and can undermine fair spectrum awards;
- Spectrum that is set-aside for verticals in core mobile bands can also threaten the wider success of 5G – including slower rollouts, worse performance and reduced coverage;
- Policymakers should consider the coexistence challenges when different use cases need to be supported in the same mobile band;
- Unlicensed spectrum is likely to play an important role for numerous verticals; and
- Policymakers should carefully consider their options and consult stakeholders to ensure they most efficiently support the needs of verticals without undermining other spectrum users.