Feature Article

March 20, 2014

GSMA 2014 Report Cites Licensed Spectrum Best for Mobile Broadband

GSMA’s (Group Speciale Mobile Association) 2014 report has been released, and it stated that shared spectrum can complement but in no way replace the need for exclusive-access spectrum in the provision of mobile broadband.

"The GSMA commends efforts by regulators around the world to rapidly find a solution for the current spectrum crunch," said Tom Phillips, GSMA Chief Regulatory Officer. "While sharing schemes could provide a complementary approach to ease rapidly growing demand for spectrum, exclusive access to spectrum for mobile use is the optimal regulatory approach, providing the necessary market certainty to stimulate investments in networks and services."

The report is based on a model that assesses the prospective value of two potential Licensed Shared Access scenarios: the release of 50MHz in the European Union in the 2.3GHz band from 2020 and of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band in the United States from 2016. The many variables involved and the additional risks, complexities and uncertainties involved with spectrum sharing mean that each sharing opportunity should ideally be evaluated on a case by case basis, making a generalized approach impossible.

Findings from the report for the European Union stated that exclusive licensed spectrum in the 2.3GHz band could add EUR 86 billion (US $116 billion) to the EU's economy in the period 2016-2030 and that shared licensing could sharply reduce economic benefits to EUR 70 billion (US $95 billion) or as low as EUR 5 billion (US $6.7 billion), due to a lack of common approach in spectrum allocation across the Member States, combined with significant geographic and timing exclusions as well as potential contracting limitations.

In regards to the United States, the report stated that the exclusive spectrum licensing in the 3.5GHz band would add US $260 billion (EUR 192 billion) to the US economy and that sharing terms strictly limit the use of spectrum by mobile operators, this value would be sharply reduced to US $210 billion (EUR 155 billion) or as little as US $7 billion (EUR 5 billion).

"Spectrum is the lifeblood of the mobile industry. To attract investment and reap the full economic benefits of mobile broadband, regulators need to provide access to a critical mass of spectrum," continued Phillips. "For the EU and US, this can be achieved through the harmonization of bands, on similar contractual terms and conditions, as well as limited geographic and timing exclusions. For these reasons, shared spectrum is not a substitute for exclusive-access spectrum, and governments and regulators should not fully rely on shared spectrum for the provision of mobile broadband in the future."

In addition, the report noted that digital commerce will be the heart of future commerce and that mobile networks will be the pillar of the all-IP mobile broadband era. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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