The GSMA called on regulators across the globe to boost mid-band spectrum availability, cautioning without additional allocations meeting United Nations (UN) internet speed targets could cost billions of dollars more per city and have a higher carbon footprint.

A study commissioned by the organisation and undertaken by Coleago Consulting estimated the total cost of 5G deployments per city would jump by between $782 million and $5.8 billion for areas where there was a deficit of 800MHz to 1000MHz spectrum.

Additional fees come from the increased number of base stations needed and related overheads. In some areas, the GSMA noted, it would be impossible to meet “the full potential of 5G” without additional spectrum assets.

It warned the industry needed an average of 2GHz of mid-band spectrum per city to meet data speed requirements mandated by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union’s 2030 deadline.

The target is to provide reliable end-user download speeds of 100Mb/s and 50Mb/s upload speeds, assessed on population density metrics. However, it excludes some cities with large numbers of commuters or tourists.

The GSMA noted to meet targets, mobile operators needed access to spectrum in harmonised bands citing 3.5GHz, 4.8GHz and 6GHz.

Achieving the goals using mid-band, it added, would mimimise the environmental impact of the latest network technology and lead to lower consumer prices as well as cutting deployment cost.