GSMA THRIVE NORTH AMERICA: Executives from Nokia and Intel urged the US to quickly free more mid-band spectrum for 5G, arguing an upcoming auction of 280MHz of C-Band airwaves won’t be sufficient to meet rising data demand.

Speaking during day two of the CTIA 5G Summit, Nokia’s Americas CTO Mike Murphy said the company projected US data demand would exceed 4G network capacity in 2022, hitting a point he called “LTE exhaust”. He argued 5G and more spectrum were the only ways to tackle this, adding the timing and amount of new releases will be critical.

Murphy noted an initial 100MHz tranche of C-Band spectrum will become available in December 2021, enabling deployments in 2022. But the remaining 180MHz is not due to be freed until December 2023, he added.

“The demand flow is increasing unabatedly, and so you actually need quite a large amount of spectrum to service that demand. So while the 280MHz over the next four years is great, we still need more and ideally we still need it earlier.”

Asha Keddy, corporate VP and GM of next generation and standards at Intel, agreed: “Even though we’ve released a lot of spectrum, more than ever before, we need to do more”.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai (pictured) argued the government was moving quickly to issue more spectrum, highlighting recent 600MHz, 3.5GHz and mmWave auctions. Beyond the C-Band sale, he noted plans were afoot to auction an additional 100MHz from 3.45GHz to 3.55GHz in 2021.

Together, these efforts will yield “a contiguous 530MHz swathe from 3.45GHz to 3.98GHz of mid-band spectrum available for 5G”.