GSMA Warns against 5G Risk, Seeks Govts’ Support for Spectrum


Emma Okonji

The GSMA, the global body for all telecoms operators has warned against the looming threats to 5G network rollout across countries.

The warning was due to the availability of limited spectrum that would drive 5G rollout.
To the end, the GSMA has called on various governments across the globe to as a matter of urgency, support mobile industry spectrum needs.

In its Public Policy Position on 5G Spectrum, which was released recently, the organisation said the successful rollout of ultra-fast 5G services relies on more timely access to the right amount and type of spectrum.

As the race to launch 5G services intensifies, the GSMA highlighted the need for governments, regulators and the mobile industry to work together to deliver widespread coverage, and deliver the full potential of 5G for everyone.
According to the GSMA, governments around the world have started to auction spectrum for 5G networks, but variations in how much spectrum has been assigned, the onerous conditions imposed, and the cost of access to that spectrum, means the speed, reach and quality of 5G services could vary dramatically between countries.

Early adopters would be the first to realise the significant benefits of 5G from fibre-like mobile broadband speeds and smarter cities to autonomous cars and digitised factories, and stand to reap important socio-economic benefits including GDP growth.

The GSMA intelligence forecasts that there would be 1.3 billion 5G connections by 2025, but this would be dependent on operators gaining access to sufficient spectrum.

Head of sub-Saharan Africa at GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck, said: “Operators urgently need more spectrum to deliver the endless array of services that mobile broadband will enable.

“More spectrum has to be made available for 4G networks, and our 5G future depends heavily on the decisions governments will make as we head into WRC-19.

“Without strong government support to allocate and assign sufficient spectrum to next generation mobile services, it will be impossible to achieve the scale that will make mobile broadband affordable and accessible for everyone.

“There is a real opportunity for innovation, but this hinges on governments focusing on making enough spectrum available, not maximising auction revenues for short term gains.”

The ‘GSMA Public Policy Position on 5G Spectrum’ outlined several key considerations for governments and regulators to include: 5G needs wider frequency bands to support higher speeds and larger amounts of traffic. Regulators that make available 80-100 MHz of spectrum per operator in prime 5G mid-bands, such as 3.5 GHz and around 1 GHz per operator in vital millimeter wave bands above 24 GHz, will best support the very fastest 5G services.

The report also said 5G needs spectrum within three key frequency ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases such as sub-1GHz spectrum to extend high-speed 5G mobile broadband coverage across urban, suburban and rural areas and to help support Internet of Things (IoT) services; Spectrum from 1-6 GHz to offer a good mix of coverage and capacity for 5G services; Spectrum above 6 GHz for 5G services such as ultra-high-speed mobile broadband.

According to Goodluck; “Governments and regulators have a major role to play in ensuring that consumers get the full benefits from mobile broadband. “It is critical for currently available spectrum to be assigned quickly, and at the right price, so we can connect more people to better services.

“Once spectrum is allocated to mobile at WRC, licensing that spectrum at a national level, as history has shown, can take up to 10 years. Therefore, it is essential that governments take the right action now.”