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GSMA: Growth threatened in airwaves battle

July 31, 2019

An economic report by trade body the GSMA – which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide – reveals that releasing 5G mmWave capacity will create $565 billion of economic expansion. This figure represents 2.9 per cent of global GDP growth by 2034, which the GSMA says points to a huge impact on developing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America.

The GSMA’s research into the global reach of 5G technology highlights a $5.2 billion (€4.67bn) boost to GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa over the period. South East Asia will see a $45 billion rise in GDP and Latin America will benefit by $20.8 billion.

According to the GSMA, this economic growth hinges on the availability of access to a specific strand of radio waves, known as millimetre waves, suggesting that this economically-critical spectrum and the 5G services it will enable are under threat as a result of a territorial dispute triggered by the space industry. The 5G mmWave spectrum will be allocated at an international treaty conference in less than 100 days’ time.

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19, from October 28th to November 22nd) will see 3,000 delegates from over 190 nations meeting in Egypt to agree on how radiowave capacity will be used. The GSMA contends that some in the space industry are determined to limit mobile use of airwaves that 5G requires to reach its full potential, suggesting that what it describes as a “protectionist attitude” is ringing alarm bells throughout the mobile communications world.

“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.”

Tarnutzer stresses that this argument has profound implications for huge swathes of humanity. “Billions of citizens are counting on more innovation and more investments in their future economic prosperity to improve their lives. The benefits of 5G are truly global and the outcome of this fight matters to us all.”  Time is running out to secure these benefits, warns Tarnutzer. “WRC-19 is a critical moment for administrations to secure mmWave spectrum for future use and guarantee delivery of 5G-enabled services in their countries.”

The report released by the GSMA, Regional Spotlights: Impact of 5G mmWave, explores the impact of 5G mmWave on emerging economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Latin America.

It reveals the benefits on 5G mmWave will be felt across industries and explores exciting new 5G use cases. Energy production, transportation, professional services, mining and healthcare all require this technology. The GSMA report raises serious concerns that without adequate support at WRC-19, the deployment of these essential 5G services may be delayed for up to a decade.

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