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GSMA pushes the case for 26 GHz ahead of WRC-19

In an open-letter to representatives of 170 governments ahead of the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference in November, the GSMA has pressed the case for 5G in the mmWave spectrum bands.

At the conference, taking place in Egypt, Government Ministers and executives of regulatory authorities will decide the fate of 5G in the 26, 40 and 66 GHz spectrum bands. These spectrum bands have been hotly-discussed for ultra-high capacity and ultra-high-speed services, though there have been discerning voices.

The criticism which has seemed to gain traction from some US politicians is from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which suggest 5G in the high frequency bands will impact the accuracy of weather forecasts.

“Identifying mmWave spectrum for mobile requires careful consideration. That is why the industry has been so actively involved at the ITU over the past four years of technical study of these frequencies,” the letter states.

“The methodical analysis undertaken by governments and industry through the ITU process has demonstrated that mobile can safely operate in these bands without causing harm to other spectrum-using services.”

The GSMA has also warned government agencies on taking the impact on weather forecasts too seriously, stating the officials should base their decisions on ‘sound science’. It seems to be a cheap shot, but as the conference draws closer, we suspect more vicious barbs will be thrown towards the spectrum rivals.

An interesting undertone to this is the impact to global harmonisation of spectrum. This has always been a concern of the GSMA, as it will impact the inner workings of the 5G ecosystem. A regionalised approach to the delivery of 5G is not a perfect outcome, especially when this generation of mobile technology was supposed to be a demonstration of collaboration.

That said, evidence of fragmentation is already exists.

In the US, the general approach to 5G delivery has been through the mmWave spectrum bands, though Europe is seemingly favouring the mid-band spectrum. The European approach does seem to be more effective for the moment, mid-band spectrum marries a palatable compromise between increased speeds and a tolerable range of coverage. US 5G enthusiasts might be able to get eye-watering speeds, though they will have to be stood very close to a base station.

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