Europe’s mobile leaders cautioned that the continent risks falling behind on 5G by adopting strict restrictions on the use of 26GHz spectrum, as they threw weight behind an open letter requesting an “investment friendly approach” to the band.

The open letter, signed by CTOs and leading executives from operators including Vodafone Group, Deutsche Telekom and Orange, along with vendors Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson, was addressed to the European Communications Committee (ECC), which is currently deliberating on use of the 26GHz band for 5G in Europe.

In the letter, published by industry association the GSMA, the executives stated a recent draft of the ECC’s plan for the band proposes conditions which, if accepted, “will severely constrain use of the band for 5G in Europe”.

These include restrictive emission limits for mobile communications equipment and other stipulations regarding how 5G could be deployed in the 26GHz band by licensees.

“Such rules would prevent mobile operators from building the best possible 5G networks and would de-incentivise the industry from building the types of dense networks that would enable the gigabit society,” signatories argued.

The companies added if Europe chose a more restrictive approach, as currently proposed, “it will be placing itself at a significant disadvantage in the global 5G race and hamper its ability to compete effectively with other countries and regions”.

Global contrast
Drawing on examples from other regions, the letter stated the US, South Korea and Japan had taken a “pragmatic approach to emissions limits for the 28GHz band”, while countries backing 26GHz, including those in the Middle East, APAC and China “are also favouring less restrictive conditions”.

Conditions on the use of 26GHz should therefore be the “least restrictive as possible, and flexible enough to create a ripe environment for growth and development”.

“Such an environment would incentivise network rollout and provision of extremely high capacity, high data rates and high quality of services for customers,” the executives wrote.

Representatives from KPN, Telia, Turkcell, Samsung Networks, 3 Group, BT Group and Telefonica also signed the letter.