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GSMA squares up to the space industry

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The GSMA has released a statement directed at the lobby groups who are attempting to limit access to the valuable mmWave spectrum frequencies over fears it would interfere with weather forecasting.

While the mmWave spectrum has long been heralded as the holy-grail for telcos when attempting to increase download speeds in the 5G era, the space and satellite industry has been attempting to limit access due to interference with various systems including weather forecasting.

No decisions have been formally made, though the GSMA naturally wants to pressure governments into releasing more spectrum as it performs it duties as the industry’s lobby group.

“We can’t let misinformation and the overly protectionist attitudes of the space industry derail the 5G revolution,” says Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA.

“Over-stringent protection will limit the spectrum needed for 5G and have huge consequences for society. This could put the economic and innovation bonanza accompanying ultra-fast networks on hold for a generation.”

The GSMA is being fairly obvious with its message here. Ignore the fears of the space industry and give the telcos more spectrum. You shouldn’t really expect anything less from the lobby group either; telcos are screaming out for more of the valuable resource.

This spat dates back to objections from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which unveiled a report suggesting the high-frequency spectrum bands would interfere with weather forecasting systems, potentially decreasing the accuracy. Democrat Senators Ron Wyden (Oregon) and Maria Cantwell (Washington) jumped on a report produced by NOAA and NASA, writing to the Oval Office suggesting a halt on spectrum usage in the 24 GHz bands.

Over the next couple of weeks, it would not be a surprise to see this conflict enter into the back and forth as the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 is set to start in 100 days-time. At this event, 3000 delegates will attempt to agree on how radio-wave capacity will be used.

The question these delegates will have to answer is what is more important. The space agency has defended the use of the spectrum for weather forecasting, demonstrating its important to safety and various different industries, but the GSMA has done the same. Most governments are looking towards technology and connectivity as a means to generate economic momentum and the swift implementation of 5G is critical to ensure individual nations do not fall behind the global leaders.

What we suspect will happen is a middle-ground will be found, an attempt to appease all parties involved, though no-one is entirely satisfied. This is generally how such bureaucratic exercises tend to unravel.

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