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More spectrum for mobile

Following the growing demand for spectrum for 4G and 5G development of mobile broadband services, as results of ITU World Radio Conference (WRC- 15), 700 MHz band for EMEA and Central Asia has been confirmed for International Mobile Telecommunications(IMT). The band, auctioned in Germany in summer, and earlier on in France, has been reconfirmed on its identification for IMT made at WRC-12, together with the technical conditions for coexistence with broadcast and radionavigation services in neighbouring countries.

700 MHz band has become the first globally harmonized frequency band, as it was first identified for Americas and Asia-Pacific in WRC-07. 700 MHz band is intended to be made available throughout Europe by 2020, and it is right now being auctioned in Latam. Global harmonization will bring reduced prices for the production of mobile broadband equipment, and therefore help to deliver more affordable broadband for all.

The Conference, held in Geneva between 2 and 27 November with the participation of 3300 delegates from more than 160 countries, has taken a key decision that will provide enhanced capacity for mobile broadband in the 694-790 MHz frequency band in ITU Region-1 (Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia) and a globally harmonized solution for the implementation of the digital dividend.

The provisions adopted by WRC-15 provide a significant milestone in building momentum towards global harmonization of the 694-790 MHz frequency band and paves the way for manufacturers and mobile operators to offer mobile broadband at an affordable price in currently underserved areas, as well as full protection to television broadcasting and to the aeronautical radio-navigation systems operating in this frequency band. The ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said that “WRC-15 decision represents a landmark in the development of broadband mobile on a worldwide scale, regardless of location, network or terminal used”.

Thanks the adoptions made, the sub-700MHz band is now available for mobile in markets covering more than half the population of the Americas region and, in addition, several major markets within the Indian subcontinent also announced their intention to use part of this band for mobile broadband.

WRC-15 also identified frequency bands in the L-band (1427-1518 MHz) and in the lower part of the C-band (3.4 -3.6 MHz) and achieved agreement on some additional portions in other bands that were also allocated to mobile broadband services in order to be used in regions where there was no interference with other services.

To counteract the difficulties encountered in finding additional spectrum for IMT in bands below 6 GHz, WRC-15 decided to include studies in the agenda for the next WRC in 2019 for the identification of bands above 6 GHz that will allow technology to meet demand for greater capacity. All actors involve in mobile can now focus on the development of necessary technologies in line with the schedule for the implementation of IMT-2020. The preliminary agenda for the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference was also was also decided. Much more spectrum will be available for mobile broadband following the expected WRC-19 decisions. The agenda for the 2019 Conference were also decided. WRC-19 will address a number of issues, in particular broadband and mobile allocations in higher frequency bands above 24 GHz. And one of the main challenges for the future of spectrum management is the convergence between fixed to mobile applications – this will also be addressed at WRC-19.

From its side, GSMA (Global System for Mobile Association) welcomes the decisions taken at WRC-15 to identify critical new spectrum to secure the future of the mobile internet. “The GSMA applauds the strong support from governments in all regions for the global harmonisation of 200MHz of the C-band (3.4-3.6GHz) to meet capacity requirements in urban areas. We are also pleased by the decision to globally harmonise the L-band (1427-1518MHz), a mid-frequency band that provides an ideal blend of coverage and capacity capabilities”.

The strategy for WRC-19 starts now to identify preferred bands and to seek for future mobile innovations related spectrum uses.

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Claudio Barahona / @claubarahona

Country Manager de Wayra, Innovación Abierta de Telefónica
 

 Juan José Haro Seijas / @jjharoseijas

Director de Políticas Públicas y Negocio Mayorista de Latam