GSMA wants governments to harmonise spectrum and promote investment for 5G ahead of WRC-19
Mobile industry body the GSMA is calling for governments and regulators to ensure a favourable environment for the development of 5G networks – three years before the next global conference that will assign spectrum on a global scale.
It is expected that the first commercial 5G networks will go live in 2020 and although there is some debate as to how the final standard will turn out, it is widely expected they will offer significant upgrades on speed, capacity and latency.
The GSMA says 5G networks will support a “hugely diverse” set of connections including industrial machinery, connected cars and the Internet of Things (IoT) – applications that will be hindered unless the world can agree on a set of standards.
For example, automated vehicles would have to work across multiple countries to be useful and the inclusion of multiple receivers for different bands would drive up prices, potentially limiting the reach of 5G.
Read More: What is 5G and how is it different from 4G?
Each country will receive a vote at the 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-19), which is organiser by the UN-affiliated International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The last event was held last year, at which the GSMA was desperate to secure more bandwidth for mobile – specifically 700MHz.
The GSMA wants a mixture of sub-1GHz frequencies that will provide sufficient range, especially for IoT, bandwidth between 1 and 6 GHz that offer a balance of coverage and capacity, and spectrum above 6GHz that can support superfast speeds. It is expected the 3.3-3.8GHz band will support the first set of 5G services.
The majority of spectrum used in mobile networks today is below 3GHz because of the wide coverage it provides. For example, 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz are the bands used to power the UK’s 4G networks. However 5G will rely on more ‘micro’ network technology such as small cells, making capacity a significant issue.
Vodafone and Huawei have tested 70GHz spectrum to see if it is suitable for 5G.
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But that’s not all. The organisation is calling for national governments to adopt policies that incentives the construction of 5G infrastructure. In the UK, some observers and providers are concerned that rollout will be hampered unless there is a favourable economic and regulatory climate – especially with regards to sites
“Although the mobile industry, academic institutions and international standards-making bodies are developing the technologies central to 5G, success will depend heavily on affordable access to the necessary amount of spectrum,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA.
“It is essential that sufficient new mobile spectrum is made available – and that operators are allowed to repurpose existing spectrum for 5G when required. Governments are central to the WRC-19 process to identify harmonised spectrum for 5G and incentivise the necessary network investment.”