Regulators’ recent actions defy industry calls for consolidation
Oct 23, 2019 by Toby Youell


The mobile industry can perhaps be forgiven for feeling hard done by these days.

Regulators not only expect them to invest large amounts of money to build 5G networks but also to keep retail prices low. At the same time, governments call on them to do their bit in winning the supposed “race” to 5G. And this is before they’ve even paid for any spectrum licences.

Two of the USA’s four nationwide mobile operators, T-Mobile and Sprint, are trying to merge to meet these challenges. Mats Granryd, director general of mobile industry association the GSMA, appeared to promote this merger at MWC Americas this week.

But our update of spectrum policy across the world’s most important economies found – among other trends – that two of the world’s most developed countries are taking the reverse course.

Germany’s controversy-ridden auction of the 2.1 GHz and 3.4—3.7 GHz bands allowed Drillisch, an MVNO, to gain spectrum in both bands.

In Japan, e-commerce company Rakuten gained a licence for the 1.7 GHz band in 2018 and further licences for the 3.8—3.9 GHz and 27—27.4 GHz bands in 2019.

While neither of these networks has yet launched commercial services, it is clear that the mobile industry still has some work to do in persuading regulators to let them merge.

Our updated national profiles – including Germany and Japan – are available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.