GSMA warns spectrum shortage could escalate 5G rollout cost


The GSMA is calling on tech industry regulators across the globe to boost mid-band spectrum availability, cautioning that without additional allocations, it could cost cities billions of dollars extra to meet United Nations (UN) internet speed targets. 

The global tech industry advocate also fears spectrum shortage could lead to higher carbon footprint.

A study commissioned by the GSMA and undertaken by Coleago Consulting estimated the total cost of 5G deployments per city would jump by between $782 million and $5.8 billion for areas where there was a deficit of 800MHz to 1000MHz spectrum.

The report cited increased number of base stations and related overheads as the main source of additional cost in the face of spectrum shortage, saying that in some areas, it would be impossible to meet “the full potential of 5G” without additional spectrum assets.

It warned the industry needed an average of 2GHz of mid-band spectrum per city to meet data speed requirements mandated by the UN’s International Telecommunications Union’s 2030 deadline.

The target is to provide reliable end-user download speeds of 100Mb/s and 50Mb/s upload speeds, assessed on population density metrics. However, it excludes some cities with large numbers of commuters or tourists.

The GSMA noted to meet targets, mobile operators needed access to spectrum in harmonized bands citing 3.5GHz, 4.8GHz and 6GHz.

Achieving the goals using mid-band, it added, would minimize the environmental impact of the latest network technology and lead to lower consumer prices as well as cutting deployment cost.


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