GSMA 5G Spectrum Guide vs WRC-19 vs FCC 5G FAST Plan

In a new ‘industry position,’ mobile trade association GSMA states its views on spectrum needed for 5G mobile networks. The GSMA 5G Spectrum Guide executive summary talks about a new generation of wireless tech opening up a bunch of new opportunities, but that won’t be possible unless governments and regulators do a much better job of giving wireless network operators the swathes of spectrum they will need to deliver on the promise of 5G.

“Operators urgently need more spectrum to deliver the endless array of services that 5G will enable – our 5G future depends heavily on the decisions governments are making in the next year as we head into WRC-19,” said Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum at GSMA.

Editor’s Note:

WRC-19 refers to the World Radiocommunications Conference 2019. It’s a rare opportunity for organizations such as various ITU-R committees and the GSMA to propose spectrum to be used for various worldwide wireless applications. As this author has stated many, many times in numerous techblog posts, WRC-19 will confirm the frequencies to be used by all ITU-R IMT networks, including IMT 2020.

Under the terms of the ITU Constitution, a WRC can:

The next ITU Inter-regional Workshop on WRC-19 Preparation – Geneva, Switzerland, 20-22 November 2018.  Details are here.  The results of the ITU-R ​studies included in the Draft CPM Report to WRC-19 will be presented to the Workshop, as well as the status of regional preparations for CPM19-2, RA-19 and WRC-19.​

This Workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the possible solutions identified to satisfy the WRC-19 agenda items and issues. It will also facilitate the exchange of information on the draft common views, positions and/or proposals of the concerned entities.  The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) agenda and relevant WRC resolutions can be downloaded from the WRC-19 web page at: ​
For the U.S., the FCC WRC-19 advisory committee is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to provide to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public views and recommendations in preparation for the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-­19).  The FCC is focused on making additional low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum available for 5G services., as stated in the FCC 5G FAST Plan. 


“Without strong government support to allocate sufficient spectrum to next generation mobile services, it will be impossible to achieve the global scale that will make 5G affordable and accessible for everyone. There is a real opportunity for innovation from 5G, but this hinges on governments focusing on making enough spectrum available, not maximising auction revenues for short term gains.”

GSMA 5G spectrum guide includes:

5G Spectrum Policy Positions (Updated)

The 5G spectrum guide starts with the GSMA’s key policy positions. They focus on areas where governments, regulators and the mobile industry should cooperate to make 5G a success.

Click here to download the updated full position paper in English or French. An updated version in Spanish will arrive shortly.

IMT Spectrum Between 24.25 and 86 GHz (Updated)

WRC-19 will be vital to realising the vision for 5G. The work at WRC-19 (centred around AI 1.13) will look at spectrum for mobile broadband in frequencies between 24.25 and 86 GHz.

Download the updated position paper in English here. There are also updated versions in French and Spanish. They are available here and here.

26 GHz and 28 GHz are both needed for 5G (Updated)

In this infographic we take a look at countries and regions that are trialling and supporting  26 GHz and or 28 GHz. It also details bands plans and use cases.

An updated version of the infographic is available in English here. The new version will shortly arrive in French and Spanish. The old versions are available here and here.

Considerations for the 3.5 GHz IMT range 

Operators need new spectrum to keep up with growing mobile data and coverage demands. The 3.5 GHz IMT range offers an ideal opportunity to meet this demand. The band will be one of the first frequencies to carry 5G traffic, but first it must be licensed.

Download the report in English here,

The 5G era in the US 

This report from GSMA Intelligence explores the current landscape and the future outlook for 5G in the US. It focuses on network deployment, spectrum, use cases, and policy and regulation.

The full report is available here


“Governments and regulators have a major role to play in ensuring that consumers get the best outcome from 5G,” said GSMA’s Tarnutzer. “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,” he added

That GSMA still feels the need to spell out the importance of radio spectrum to governments and regulators is somewhat astonishing, considering what a redundant and rhetorical issue that should be.  Evidently, GSMA hopes that government regulators will be galvanized to make a strong case for their respective spectrum positions.

Here’s the GSMA’s list of demands for spectrum:

1.  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 (e.g. 3.5 GHz) and around 1 GHz per operator in vital millimeter wave bands (i.e. above 24 GHz), will best support the very fastest 5G services.

2.  5G needs spectrum within three key frequency ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases:

  • 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

3.   It is essential that governments support the 26 GHz, 40 GHz (37-43.5 GHz) and 66-71 GHz bands for mobile at WRC-19. A sufficient amount of harmonised 5G spectrum in these bands is critical to enabling the fastest 5G speeds, low-cost devices and international roaming and to minimising cross-border interference.

4.  Governments and regulators should avoid inflating 5G spectrum prices (e.g. setting high auction reserve prices) as they risk limiting network investment and driving up the cost of services.

5.  Regulators should avoid setting aside spectrum for verticals in key mobile spectrum bands; sharing approaches, such as leasing, are better options where vertical industries require access to spectrum.



5 thoughts on “GSMA 5G Spectrum Guide vs WRC-19 vs FCC 5G FAST Plan

  1. What frequency bands are under study for the implementation of IMT 2020 (5G)?

    The following bands, which are already allocated to mobile, will be studied with a view to an IMT-2020 (5G) identification:
    • 24.25 – 27.5 GHz • 37 – 40.5 GHz
    • 42.5 – 43.5 GHz • 45.5 – 47 GHz
    • 47.2 – 50.2 GHz • 50.4 – 52.6 GHz
    • 66 – 76 GHz • 81 – 86 GHz

    The following bands will also be studied, although they do not currently have global mobile allocations:
    • 31.8 – 33.4 GHz
    • 40.5 – 42.5 GHz
    • 47 – 47.2 GHz

    The results of the studies will be submitted for decision to the next ITU World Radio Conference (WRC-19), to be held from 28 October to 22 November 2019 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

    Read more about ITU-R’s Role in Radio Frequency Spectrum for 5G Networks of the Future

  2. GSMA: The state of mobile internet and barriers to uptake of services, 5 March 2019
    Ms. Lauren Dawes, GSMA-UK,

    The GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index supports the mobile industry’s commitment to connect everyone and everything to a better future. It measures the performance of 163 countries – representing 99% of the global population – against the key enablers of mobile internet adoption: infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness, and content and services. This data can help the mobile industry and other stakeholders understand where to focus action to drive increased mobile internet adoption.

    The Mobile Connectivity Index can found online and now includes four years of data from 2014 to 2017. The Index is built up through 35 indicators feeding into 12 dimensions that are aggregated to give a score for each of the four enablers. Scores fall within a range of 0–100. The scores for each of these enablers are rolled up into an overall Connectivity Index score, which represents how advanced a country’s mobile internet environment is. The Index continues to correlate strongly with actual mobile internet penetration. While there is a strong link between positive changes in the Index over time and increases in a country’s mobile internet penetration, in some instances there can be a lag. Once an enabling environment is in place, mobile internet adoption will occur – but not always immediately. The global average Mobile Connectivity Index score has increased from 52 in 2014 to 60 in 2017. North America and Western Europe remain the regions with the highest Index scores, while Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest average score. The most improved region between 2014 and 2017 was Asia-Pacific, due to significant improvements in scores for infrastructure and content & services.
    Consumers are less likely to connect to the mobile internet unless there is online content and services that they can see are of relevance and benefit to them. This might be as simple as having content in the native language or having certain apps or services available such as for social media, banking or education.

    GSMA’s recent State of Mobile internet connectivity report discusses barriers for the take-up of mobile services globally:

  3. The frequencies to be used for IMT 2020 (standardized 5G by ITU-R WP 5D) will be determined at the WRC 19 conference in Egypt this October-November. Until then we don’t know what midband or mm Wave band frequencies should be auctioned for standardized 5G, which will displace each and every deployed “5G” network now deployed and to be deployed before IMT 2020 has been standardized and implemented.

    It may NOT be just a software upgrade, as Ericsson has repeatedly claimed, because we do NOT know at this time what the IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard will be or what frequencies will be permissible to use for it!

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