The GSMA has called on governments worldwide to support the identification of “sufficient” millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for the mobile industry at the next ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 (WRC-19).
The association is clearly lining up its ducks ahead of the conference with the publication of a report, titled Study on Socio-Economic Benefits of 5G Services Provided in mmWave Band, which sets out clear economic and financial incentives for governments to ensure mobile operators are able to get their hands on plenty of this high-band spectrum.
The study claims that unlocking “the right” spectrum to enable the provision of 5G services across different industry sectors could add a cumulative $565 billion to global GDP and $152 billion in tax revenue from 2020 to 2034. 5G as a whole is expected to yield $2.2 trillion in GDP and $588 billion in tax revenue cumulatively over the period to 2034, but the study found that mmWave 5G applications will make up an increasing proportion of the overall 5G contribution to global GDP. The study was carried out by consultancy TMG on behalf of the GSMA.
WRC-19 is due to take place from October 28 to November 22, 2019, and is expected to have a significant impact on the future availability and harmonization of radio spectrum resources for 5G. Among other aspects, it will look at spectrum for mobile broadband in frequencies between 24.25 GHz and 86 GHz.
The GSMA recommends supporting the 26 GHz, 40 GHz and 66-71 GHz bands for mobile, and noted that these bands have the greatest support for identification for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT). The 28 GHz band is already emerging as an important mmWave band for 5G; commercial services using this band have already been launched in the U.S. and it will also be used for mmWave 5G in countries such as South Korea, Japan, India and Canada.
Certainly, operators and vendors have not been slow to test 5G in mmWave spectrum, while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in the midst of the first mmWave auction in the U.S. The 28 GHz auction began on November 14, and will be followed by the 24GHz auction.
To name a few recent mmWave trials, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung and Verizon recently hailed tests of Non-Standalone 5G New Radio (NSA 5G NR) standard in Verizon’s 28GHz spectrum band as important steps toward the commercial launch of 5G NR networks from 2019 onwards. Earlier in 2018, Nokia and Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo tested 5G technology in the 90 GHz spectrum band – which is also significantly higher than most current 5G tests using mmWave spectrum. NTT DoCoMo has also trialed 5G in mmWave spectrum with Huawei. Meanwhile, AT&T’s 5G efforts have focused on mmWave and faster broadband.
Of course, the high-band spectrum is not the only band that is expected to be used for 5G. Significant activity has already taken place in the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, and 3.5 GHz bands, for example.
However, the GSMA and TMG study pointed to the “ ideal characteristics” of mmWave spectrum to support very high data transfer rates and low latency capabilities, thereby enabling a raft of potential 5G use cases such as enhanced remote healthcare and education, industrial automation, and virtual and augmented reality.
Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum at the GSMA, emphasized that government backing for mmWave mobile spectrum at WRC-19 “will unlock the greatest value from 5G deployments for their citizens.”
“It is critical for governments to recognize the importance of the mmWave aspects of 5G when making decisions at the upcoming WRC-19. Making the right decisions now on spectrum will be vital to stimulating the rapid growth of economies, especially in developing markets, in the coming decade,” added Tarnutzer.