The GSMA has released a new position paper outlining the mobile industry’s recommendations for public policies that support a successful 5G roll-out. The industry group wants large blocks of multiple types of spectrum made available at affordable prices to ensure a quick roll-out of the next generation of mobile networks.
While several countries have already started auctioning 5G spectrum, the conditions and costs vary significantly, which could lead to big differences in how 5G services develop, the GSMA warned. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that there will be 1.3 billion 5G connections by 2025, but this will be dependent on operators gaining access to sufficient spectrum.
The policy paper outlines several key considerations for governments and regulators. These include a need for 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 (e.g. 3.5 GHz) and around 1 GHz per operator in mmWave bands (above 24 GHz) will best support the very fastest 5G services, the group said.
Spectrum will be needed in three key frequency ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases: sub-1GHz to extend high-speed mobile broadband coverage across urban, suburban and rural areas and to help support IoT services; from 1-6 GHz to offer a good mix of coverage and capacity for 5G services; and above 6 GHz for 5G services such as ultra-high-speed mobile broadband.
The paper also includes recommendations for governments preparing their position for the World Radiocommunication Conference next year. The GSMA wants WRC-19 to approve the 26 GHz, 40 GHz (37-43.5 GHz) and 66-71 GHz bands for mobile services, so operators and equipment manufacturers can benefit from economies of scale when developing 5G in different countries around the world.
The industry group also warned against setting 5G auction reserve prices too high, "as they risk limiting network investment and driving up the cost of services". Furthermore, regulators should avoid setting aside spectrum for industry verticals in key mobile spectrum bands, according to the GSMA, which sees shared use with mobile operators, such as leasing, as a better option for providing specific industries with access to spectrum.