Insufficient spectrum available for dedicated 5G service allocation

  • Spectrum sharing essential, will reduce requirement by 75%
  • Regulatory work must begin immediately to unlock €141 billion in benefits, 2.3 million jobs
  • Real Wireless analysis a key part of a ground-breaking EC socio-economic study

3 October 2016, London UK – Europe risks not having sufficient spectrum for 5G service providers to deliver potential economic benefits of €141 billion and 2.3 million jobs if we continue to follow the conventional dedicated spectrum allocations per operator. This is the headline finding of a new analysis from a team that included independent wireless experts Real Wireless, published today as part of the European Commission’s landmark 5G socio-economic report.

The report recommends that the challenges presented by spectrum sharing must be addressed as early as possible in the development of 5G if the full socio-economic benefits are to be enjoyed.

The analysis examined the minimum spectrum requirements for 5G to service all users based on traffic demand calculated from high-density scenarios associated with three challenging key use cases – healthcare, utilities, and motorways. The report finds that supporting the highly demanding 5G applications proposed under the 5G vision, especially in the multi-gigabit connectivity environment of congested major motorways, would require larger quantities of spectrum to be available than is currently earmarked for allocation. Capacity and therefore spectrum demand is driven mainly by passengers in the connected vehicles, streaming content onto future (2025–2030) user devices.

By considering a variety of spectrum-sharing scenarios, the analysis demonstrates how these requirements can be reduced by up to 75% in any given environment. The outcomes suggest that society as a whole will benefit if sharing in all frequency sub-ranges, particularly in the sub-6GHz ranges, is made possible.

In ultra-reliable connectivity environments, such as eHealthcare where there is safety of life implications, this needs to sit in sufficient dedicated spectrum to meet the SLAs of certain applications.

Real Wireless also highlighted three further possible approaches to reducing the amount of spectrum 5G would require. These included dynamic adjustment of media resolution, reducing levels of spectrum over-allocation to a limited number of parties, and the rollout of smaller-sized cells. It acknowledges that a balance would need to be struck between capacity requirements and economic factors, but its analysis demonstrated that the latter two approaches alone could contribute to an additional 86.7% reduction in the amount of spectrum required by 5G.

“The socioeconomic value of 5G will be found in its applications for vertical industries to an extent that no wireless technology has before,” said Mark Keenan, CEO, Real Wireless. “However many of those applications identified under the 5G vision are highly demanding, with significant spectrum requirements.”

“The success of 5G therefore requires legislators and regulators to begin investigating spectrum allocation and sharing principles as soon as possible to help overcome any challenges well in advance of the technology being deployed. Only then will the wireless industry be able to develop policy, tools and strategies that can drive market confidence in the essential spectrum-sharing methods we have outlined in our study.”

The results of this analysis were presented as part of the European Commission’s eagerly anticipated year-long study into the socioeconomic benefits of 5G to Europe. With input from more than 150 experts, it forecasts the realities that will arise from utilising 5G’s capabilities in 2025 and 2030 – and the potential socio-economic benefits this will generate.

The European Commission’s full socio-economic report is available to view via its website.

About Real Wireless
Real Wireless delivers independent, informed and innovative advisory services in every aspect of wireless, including strategy, detailed technical and economic studies. The company works with mobile operators, governments, venues, building owners, vendors and regulators to bridge technical and commercial domains to help its clients get the best from wireless. With experts in every aspect of wireless and a proven track record, Real Wireless is one of the world’s leading wireless advisory firms. Its clients include Ofcom, Wembley Stadium, The England and Wales Cricket Board (The ECB), BAA, The European Commission, major network operators, vendors and many others.

For more information visit or follow the company on Twitter at @real_wireless

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