Research conducted by mobile industry body GSMA has predicted 5G powered by mid-band spectrum could deliver a $610 billion boost to global GDP growth by 2030 and has urged governments and regulators to adopt policies that ensure operators gain access to sufficient airwaves.
5G networks will use a much more diverse range of spectrum than previous generations and mid-band frequencies located between 1GHz and 7GHz will be essential to delivering the full promise of next generation networks.
While low-band spectrum offers significant range and indoor penetration capabilities and high-band airwaves offer huge capacity over short distances, mid-band frequencies offer a compromise between these two desirable outcomes.
The GSMA’s report, published ahead of next week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, says mid-band 5G will deliver nearly 65% of the $960 billion socio-economic value created by 5G over the next decade.
Most of these benefits will be through core use cases like mobile broadband and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband, but a quarter will be through new services for industries like healthcare, education, and manufacturing as well as public services such as smart cities.
Many countries, including the UK, have released mid-band spectrum to operators but the GSMA wants more action. It has called for greater cooperation between the public and private sectors and for regulators to make an average of 2GHz of mid-band spectrum available for licensed 5G use, noting that there is a 1GHz shortfall in many countries.
It wants the 3.5GHz, 4.8GHz and 6GHz ranges to be harmonised globally so manufacturers can achieve economies of scale.
“Delivering on the 5G promise will require global, regional, and local action from governments and industry to make enough mid-band spectrum available,” said the GSMA’s Head of Spectrum, Luciana Camargos. “An average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum is needed, and there is work to get there. As the world seeks to deliver a new phase of economic development, government planning for 5G expansion is crucial.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.