Make your mind up time
Mar 17, 2017 by Kane Mumford



Seriously now: are we facing an imminent lack of spectrum due to exponential data demand or are we not? Answers, please, in the context of the European Parliament confirming the timetable for the clearance of 700 MHz.

The legislative process began last February but it had its routes in WRC-12 and probably even further back than that, a time when there was broader agreement that more spectrum was needed.

By the time all member states have reallocated the band – and some will be speedier than others in this – Europe will have around 1200 MHz of of sub-1 GHz spectrum available for mobile, more than any other region in the world.

The RSPG isn’t convinced that setting further targets for new spectrum is helpful and even some operators agree. Inge Hansen, director of regulatory strategy at EE, told PolicyTracker this time last year that it is not a priority to set targets for new spectrum for mobile. “No amount of spectrum is going to solve 5G,” she said.

On another occasion PolicyTracker remembers sitting in a stuffy room in Brussels packed with vendors and operators and other stakeholders. RSPG chair Philip Marnick asked the assembled group whether more spectrum is needed for service or for capacity and was met with silence, even though the RSPG has been calling for clarity on this for some time at this point

On the other hand, UK operator Three is so sure that spectrum is essential to its ability to compete that it put a serious amount of effort into convincing more than 150,000 people into lobbying Ofcom on its behalf with its vague – and faintly surreal – Make the Air Fair campaign.

And the latest draft of the ITU’s specifications for 5G say a minimum of 100 MHz bandwidth per operator must be available, although it didn’t specify if this was for mmWave or sub 1-GHz spectrum. Vendors have been saying similar things for a some time now.

There are lots of contradictory answers to the question posed at the top of this article but it looks to us like time might be running out for the go-to argument of exponential demand necessitating mobile allocations.