Urgent need to allocate spectrum, governments warned
By Digital News Asia November 3, 2015
- Governments have a role in supporting next-gen mobile services
- WRC-15 a turning point for the future of mobile: GSMA
THE GSM Association (GSMA) has called on governments across the world to allocate the spectrum required to drive the continued global growth of mobile broadband.
Each country has a role to play by identifying additional globally-harmonised spectrum to support next-generation mobile services, the association said at the start of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15).
The WRC-15 treaty negotiations are being hosted by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva.
Worldwide demand for mobile data is growing exponentially, the GSMA said.
According to Cisco Systems, global mobile data traffic will grow 10-fold from 2014 to 2019. As data traffic surges, networks will face a capacity crunch and spectrum is a critical element for ensuring continued high quality mobile communication.
“WRC-15 represents a turning point for the future of mobile,” said GSMA Acting Director General and chief technology officer Alex Sinclair.
“Governments have a unique opportunity to ensure we have the spectrum necessary to drive digital inclusion and foster a robust mobile economy over the coming decade.
“The time to act is now. As it can take up to 10 years from international identification of spectrum to network deployment, decisions made at WRC-15 will determine the availability of affordable, ubiquitous, high-speed mobile broadband services for years to come,” he added.
In July, the GSMA had expressed its disappointment that the Asia Pacific telecommunications community had not identified sufficient spectrum at the Asia Pacific Telecommunity’s Conference Preparatory Group (APG) meeting in Seoul, ahead of WRC-15.
The mobile industry is already making a profound contribution to economic growth and employment worldwide, the GSMA argued.
In 2014 alone, mobile contributed US$3 trillion to the world’s economy, equivalent to 3.8% of global GDP (gross domestic product). In the next five years, this is projected to increase to US$3.9 trillion, or 4.2% of expected GDP, with the mobile industry supporting 28.7 million jobs, it said, citing its own Mobile Economy Report Series 2015.
Future progress hinges on governments working with the mobile industry to provide a regulatory environment that encourages investment and innovation, the association added.
“We strongly support efforts by governments to identify further spectrum which are regionally and globally harmonised for mobile broadband,” said Axiata president and group chief executive officer Jamaludin Ibrahim (pic).
“We hope governments will work quickly in releasing additional spectrum to ensure the economic benefits coming from mobile broadband can be realised in the countries we operate in,” he added.
Based on ITU estimates, GSMA operator members agree that 600-800MHz of additional spectrum needs to be identified globally for mobile broadband to meet projected consumer demand by 2020.
It is critical that WRC-15 identify several new globally harmonised bands, ensuring a good mix of coverage and capacity characteristics and driving down prices through economies of scale, the association said.
WRC-15 is expected to move the 700MHz band from a regional to a globally-harmonised band as ITU Region 1 (Europe, Middle East and Africa) appears set to agree to identify this band, alongside the existing identification in the Americas and Asia Pacific, it added.
There is also nearly unanimous consensus for new globally harmonised spectrum for mobile in the L-band, starting at 1427MHz, as well as growing momentum for allocating a portion of the C-band, starting at 3.4GHz.
The GSMA continues to call for increased support for a mobile allocation in the sub-700MHz UHF (ultra-high frequency) band, which already has strong support from a number of large markets in North and South America and the Middle East, it said.
Historically used for terrestrial TV broadcasting, this band could be freed up for mobile services and has excellent geographic coverage capabilities to meet increasing mobile data demand, especially for rural communities, it added.
At WRC-15, governments will balance the spectrum needs of industries such as mobile, broadcast and satellite in the next 10 years and beyond, the GSMA noted.
By supporting a co-primary mobile allocation in key spectrum bands, each country will have the flexibility to determine how to allocate spectrum in the future, ensuring consumers can continue to choose how they access the services they want, it added.
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