Technology-Neutral Spectrum and Legacy Network Sunsets

Thursday 7 Dec 2023 | Best practice | Spectrum licensing | Spectrum management | Spectrum planning | Spectrum policy |

Technology-Neutral Spectrum and Legacy Network Sunsets image

Technology-neutral spectrum licensing (also referred to as technology neutrality) is crucial to allow mobile operators to refarm spectrum used for legacy networks (2G and 3G) for 4G and 5G services at a pace driven by market demand.

This map countries that have at least one spectrum band that is technology neutral, permitting the use of more than one spectrum technology.This report, which is written by GSMA Intelligence, takes a closer look at the benefits of technology-neutral licences. At its core, they allow spectrum to be used more efficiently. For users, it means better mobile broadband coverage, higher data speeds and lower mobile data prices than would otherwise be the case.

The report offers a global status of technology-neutral licensing, as well. Outside of Africa, the majority have at least one technology-neutral spectrum band. However, there remains a lack of technology neutrality within the continent, notably in West Africa, and parts of Central and Southern Africa. By contrast, technology neutrality has been adopted more widely in Eastern Africa.

To get technology-neutral spectrum licenses right, there are a few things to remember. Importantly, technology neutrality should not incur fees as charges for changing licences to be technology neutral risk delaying the benefits of new technology to end-users.

The report also puts the technology-neutral spectrum in a larger policy context, including how it is related legacy network sunsets.  The two are closely linked because without technology neutrality, the freed-up spectrum can’t be used efficiently, and potential socio-economic benefits are simply lost.

Download the report and read our blog post on these topics. And you can learn more about GSMA Intelligence here.