Year in review: The top stories of 2018
Dec 20, 2018 by Manuel R. Marti


As another year draws to a close, we thought we’d look back at some of 2018’s most significant spectrum news.

Future historians of 5G are likely to think of 2018 as a defining year. South Korea, Italy and the US became the first countries to auction mmWave spectrum.

Others such as Spain, Australia, Finland and Sweden have awarded key 5G frequencies in low-band and mid-band spectrum.

Perhaps the biggest news was the whopping €6.5 billion paid in Italy’s auction for 5G spectrum. The question now is whether the Italian prices are an aberration or whether they are part of a broader trend.

We also got a glimpse this year of the discussions that will shape WRC-19. While all regional preparation groups agreed to ditch the 32 GHz band, protection conditions for the 26 GHz band are likely to spark global debate in Egypt next year. The situation in the rest of the mmWave bands remains unclear.

Verizon’s 5G Home said hello, but not without controversy. What can be considered the world’s first 5G service was launched in only four US cities and is not using 3GPP’s official standards. Let’s hope 2019 holds more successful launches.

Industry verticals weren’t a new thing in 2018, but this was the year when the big players threw their hats into the ring. Farmers, manufacturers and others have been raising their voices over their spectrum needs. And Germany has apparently listened to them by agreeing to reserve the 3.7–3.8 GHz band for vertical use in the country’s 2019 auction.

The year 2018 marked a shift in the FCC’s strategy for the C-band. The US regulator finalised its rules to make it easier for operators to use the 3550—3700 MHz band and started a public proceeding on a satellite industry initiative to clear a portion of the 3.7–4.2 GHz band.