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GSMA calls for licensing of 6GHz to power 5G

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• Telecoms body claims 5G can boost global GDP by $2.2t
The Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) has said that the future of 5G is at risk if governments fail to align on licensing of the 6GHz spectrum.

GSMA, which said the full speed and capabilities of 5G depend on the 6GHz mid-band spectrum, noted that yet governments are already diverging: China will use the entire 1200 MHz in the 6GHz band for 5G. Europe has split the band, with the upper part considered for 5G, but a new 500 MHz tranche available for Wi-Fi. Africa and parts of the Middle East are taking a similar approach.

The telecoms body said at the other extreme, the US and much of Latin America have declared that none of this valuable resource will be made available for 5G, but rather will be offered to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies.

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GSMA said the 6GHz band is essential not only for mobile network operators to provide enhanced affordable connectivity for greater social inclusion, but also to deliver the data speeds and capacity needed for smart cities, transport, and factories. It is estimated that 5G networks need 2GHz of mid-band spectrum over the next decade to deliver on their full potential.

Chief Regulatory Officer for the GSMA, John Giusti, said 5G has the potential to boost the world’s GDP by $2.2 trillion.

“But there is a clear threat to this growth if sufficient 6 GHz spectrum is not made available for 5G. Clarity and certainty are essential to fostering the massive, long-term investments in this critical infrastructure,” Giusti stressed.

The World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023 will provide the opportunity to harmonise the 6GHz band across large parts of the planet and help develop the ecosystem.

According to GSMA, 5G is accelerating the digital transformation of all industries and sectors, unleashing new waves of innovation that will benefit billions. It stressed that this technology is crucial for the environment and climate goals as connectivity replaces carbon. To reach all users, however, industries will require the extra capacity that the 6GHz band offers.

Speaking recently in Abuja, the Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Adeolu Akande, said spectrum plays a critical role in realising the full extent of these new capabilities, including 5G.

Thus, Akande said 5G’s full socio-economic impact is dependent on access to a variety of spectrum resources, adding that this spectrum will play a key role in meeting the demand for many enhanced mobile data services as well as new wireless broadband use cases such as remote object manipulation, industrial automation, virtual and augmented reality and next-generation connectivity for vehicles.

He pointed out that these use cases will continue to increase the impact that mobile services have on societies and economies.

On his path, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the Frequency Spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU, the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.

Danbatta, who stated this during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCC and NigComSat on the use of C-band spectrum for 5G services in Nigeria, said the C-band is most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60 to70 per cent of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.

The NCC EVC said for optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an operator. He, however, said in Nigeria, only 120MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.

Danbatta revealed that the two agencies have been in discussions on how to relocate the operations of NG-1R to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) potion of the band, which is more suitable in terms of Satellite service offering because end-user terminal are cheaper there while leaving the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use.

He said the cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G Spectrum.

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