The GSMA today welcomed the decision by the Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG) to release the use of the 3.3 to 3.8 GHz spectrum range to mobile broadband. This important step will increase the availability of the right type of harmonised spectrum for 5G deployment across the Arab world and help accelerate ultra-fast 5G network rollouts in the region.
The ASMG, which represents 22 Arabic countries, coordinates on issues related to spectrum management and the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conferences between Arab nations. The group has approved the use of the 3.4 to 3.8 GHz range for mobile broadband use across the entire Arab region, while the 3.3 to 3.4 GHz range is available for partial use as some countries continue to reserve this band for other services.
5G mobile broadband equipment will operate across a wide tuning range across the whole 3.3 to 3.8 GHz range. This will support a rapidly growing equipment ecosystem for the 3 GHz range, increasing the economies of scale for device manufacturers and setting the right conditions for bringing affordable devices to market more quickly.
Arab Spectrum Management Group Chairman Eng. Tariq Al Awadhi said: “The 3 GHz spectrum range is one of the first resources to be used by 5G all over the world. This will be an important backbone for next-generation services in Arab countries, allowing them to continue to play a leading role in developing 5G.
“Taking the right steps to support the timely release of spectrum will ensure that Arab nations will be amongst the first in the world to offer 5G services,” said Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA. “Enhanced mobile broadband, industrial automation and immersive digital entertainment are just some of the exciting new benefits that consumers and businesses can look forward to.”
Jawad Abbassi, Head of MENA, GSMA, commented: “The availability of mobile networks with better coverage and capacity is predicated on governments laying the foundation for investment in infrastructure and services. The ASMG is showing strong leadership in backing the region’s 5G future.”
The announcement, made at the December meeting of the ASMG in Amman, Jordan, underscores the momentum behind the next generation of mobile connectivity. Recent reports by the GSMA – ‘The Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2018’ and ‘5G in MENA: GCC Operators Set for Global Leadership’ – highlight that pioneering mobile operators in the GCC Arab States are expected to launch 5G networks commercially from 2019, driving innovative new services across the region and spurring future growth. By 2025, 5G will account for 16 per cent of total connections in these markets alone.
Globally, between 2018 and 2020, more than 50 countries will launch 5G mobile services across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. In some markets, the launch of 5G commercial services is occurring earlier than initially announced, including several countries that fall within the ASMG, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Ultra-fast 5G networks need a significant amount of new harmonised mobile spectrum, including the mid-band spectrum represented by the 3.3 to 3.8 GHz range. The GSMA recommends that regulators make available 80 to 100 MHz of contiguous spectrum per operator in prime 5G mid-bands such as the 3 GHz range and around 1 GHz per operator in millimetre wave bands (i.e. above 24 GHz).