License conditions in upcoming award could hinder 5G's promise

The GSMA has welcomed the German government´s decision to release the entire 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band (C-Band), essential for the future development of 5G services globally, the company said.

Making available all of the spectrum in this critical band for 5G, in a timely manner, shows Germany´s commitment to European and global 5G leadership. However, the GSMA warns that some of the currently proposed conditions on the allocation of these vital frequencies may slow Germany´s 5G future.

Ultra-fast 5G networks will form the foundation of the world´s digital economy, supporting a wide variety of industry sectors. Imposing unnecessary conditions that limit mobile operators´ ability and potential to deliver 5G creates a risk for all, industries and citizens alike.

The proposed coverage obligations for the 3.6 GHz band, for example, appear to disregard the laws of physics when it comes to the propagation characteristics of this mid-band spectrum. Although these frequencies can provide very high capacity, they only cover a relatively small area and are not well suited to wide area coverage, unlike spectrum in lower bands.

To provide extensive rural coverage of mobile services, a combination of frequencies will be essential. Therefore, coverage obligations should provide the possibility of using any — and all — spectrum at an operator´s disposal to achieve the ambitious coverage conditions and deliver the best quality of services for consumers and industry. At the same time, coverage obligations should be realistic and not overburden mobile network operators.

In addition to coverage obligations, the GSMA believes there are other conditions proposed for the award that should be reconsidered by the regulator, Bundesnetzagentur. The current proposal, which includes potential roaming and wholesale obligations attached to the 3.4 to 3.7 GHz band, is a stark reversal of Bundesnetzagentur´s recent position, and introduces a critical level of uncertainty for operators investing in 5G networks in Germany.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.