Operators chart converging spectrum paths to 5G
Dec 12, 2019 by Spectrum Research Service Blog


The mobile industry often congratulates itself for creating a unified standard for 5G that is defined by 3GPP. This drives economies of scale and avoids the technology fragmentation that undermined previous generations of mobile technology.

But when it comes to spectrum strategies, the initial approaches of leading operators were quite different: US and some Asian operators used mmWave bands while the rest of the world focussed on “mid-bands” between 3 GHz and 6 GHz. We found in our annual review of mobile operators’ spectrum strategies that this is partly due to the strong Fixed Wireless Access business opportunity in the US – a business case that is less compelling in other markets.

However, our research also shows that strategies are converging. US-based mobile operators are increasingly turning to mid-band frequencies, such as at 2.6 GHz and 3.7 – 4.2 GHz. For all the talk of geopolitical divisions in 5G, it appears that the spectrum aspect is becoming less contentious.

These, and other trends are explained in our fully updated profiles of mobile operators. These are available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.

By Toby Youell