GSMA urges industry-wide 6GHz spectrum roadmap

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 27 Jun 2024
It is a right to be connected to the internet, says the GSMA.
It is a right to be connected to the internet, says the GSMA.

The GSM Association (GSMA) has urged government and industry action on certain spectrum issues, including supporting the full development of 6GHz for mobile.

This, as the industry’s strong history to align itself can be traced back to 30 years ago, which resulted in the establishment of GSM as the mobile standard, according to Mats Granryd, director-general of the industry body.

Granryd yesterday addressed MWC Shanghai in China, kick-starting Asia-Pacific’s edition of MWC.

According to the GSMA, the 6GHz spectrum band represents the largest remaining single block of mid-band spectrum that can be allocated to licensed mobile services in the foreseeable future.

As a result, collaborative action by policymakers and industry will ensure a spectrum roadmap is delivered for mobile operators, and establish clear timelines for equipment and handsets to be ready at scale.

Addressing delegates, Granryd asked for the industry to align on three areas: artificial intelligence (AI), spectrum and environmental issues.

Granryd said it is well-known that AI represents the huge opportunity that’s here and now. “This opportunity is forecast to be in the ballpark figure of $15 trillion, which is nearly as much as the whole GDP of China.

“We hope we will follow the path where huge prosperity and huge smart solutions will come our way, in regards to the $15 trillion opportunity in a couple of years’ time. If we don’t get this right, the risk is that AI will just disappear.

“We need to be mindful about ethics and how we deploy it, so we don’t leave anyone behind.”

Granryd explained there needs to be alignment in regards to spectrum, with the 6GHz spectrum at the core focus for 5G-Advanced and other future technologies. “In China, that is what’s been adopted…but not so much in other countries. We need the governments, regulators, industry and operators to start focusing on the 6GHz spectrum band, to deliver time plans and roadmaps for new products.”

Parallel to Granryd’s call, the GSMA confirmed it has published an industry call statement that has already been co-signed by 36 companies, including operators, equipment and chipset vendors globally.

According to the industry body, 5G equipment using 6GHz has undergone trials for the past two years in countries across the world.

Furthermore, the spectrum band received support at last year’s World Radiocommunication Conference, with countries representing 60% of the global population already guaranteeing its scale.

“6GHz spectrum will form a critical part of sustainable communications development. The enhanced mobile connectivity enabled by the 6GHz band in wide-area, macro-cell networks will lay the foundations for inclusive and technology-driven progress in countries across the world and form a vital element of each country’s digital ambitions.

“The emphasis now is on governments and industry to work together and deliver the full commercialisation of 6GHz for mobile. Governments’ role is to ensure the 6GHz spectrum band is now included in spectrum roadmaps, so that industry has clarity on the investment path that will be required for this frequency range.”

The environmental issue calls on all operators to commit to net-zero emissions by 2030, 2040 and 2050, with some gains being made in this arena.

Granryd concluded by commending the telecoms industry, saying it has the “right culture and vision”, given its ability to see opportunity, focus on investment and ensure it results in revenue and prosperity.

This clear vision, he noted, can be witnessed in the evolution of connectivity, from one connection 50 years ago, to 5.6 billion unique connections, representing two-thirds of the people in the planet connected to a mobile device.

“We cannot afford to leave anyone behind…it is a right to be connected to the internet and we know that prosperity will grow.”

The GSMA’s three-day MWC Shanghai 2024 is currently taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre and Kerry Hotel Pudong Shanghai, with key industry stakeholders, thought and business leaders, companies and governments.