Key 5G spectrum decisions need to be made ahead of WRC-19

Operators and regulators need to work more closely through the process of allocating 5G spectrum, otherwise some countries could be left behind as commercial 5G networks go live throughout 2019 and beyond, according to the GSMA.

According to its Nov. 6 “GMSA Public Policy Position on 5G Spectrum,” the telecom industry and spectrum regulators need to get on the same page ahead of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019, set for October next year in Egypt.

Specifically, low-band frequencies are needed for wide-area coverage and for internet of things networks; mid-band spectrum in the 1 GHz to 6 GHz range provides “a good mix of coverage and capacity;” and high-band millimeter wave spectrum is needed to support a major increase in throughput.

“Operators urgently need more spectrum to deliver the endless array of services that 5G will enable – our 5G future depends heavily on the decisions governments are making in the next year as we head into WRC-19,”  Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA, said in a statement. “Without strong government support to allocate sufficient spectrum to next generation mobile services, it will be impossible to achieve the global scale that will make 5G affordable and accessible for everyone. There is a real opportunity for innovation from 5G, but this hinges on governments focusing on making enough spectrum available, not maximising auction revenues for short term gains.”

This year saw a good deal of 5G spectrum auction activity and 2019 is poised to be even bigger. In the U.S., the FCC will start auctioning millimeter wave frequencies on Nov. 14 and in Europe, the U.K. has divvied up 150 megahertz in 3.4 GHz to 3.6 GHz; Italy has set aside capacity in the 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz bands; France has a Q4 auction of 3.46 GHz to 3.8 GHz; Spain auctioned space in the 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz, Switzerland has a mid-band auction coming in January next year and Ireland has auctioned 3.4 GHz to 3.8 GHz.

On millimeter wave, U.K. officials plan to allocate 26.5 GHz to 27.5 GHz in the 2020 timeframe as do their counterparts in Spain, Austria, Finland and France. Earlier this year Italian officials auctioned off licenses for that same band. Sweden, Russia and Germany plan to move on 26 GHz next year, while Switzerland is looking toward 2022.

The GSMA calls out 26 GHz, 40 GHz and 66 GHz to 71 GHz as key millimeter wave bands that need to be sorted ahead of WRC-19. “A sufficient amount of harmonised 5G spectrum in these bands is critical to enabling the fastest 5G speeds, low-cost devices and international roaming and to minimising cross-border interference,” according to the group.



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