LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 NORTH AMERICA: US spectrum access remains the biggest challenge facing the country’s mobile market and needs to be addressed to support the growing requirements in the country, leading vendors warned earlier today.
Representatives from Qualcomm, Ericsson and ZTE echoed each other in drawing on a lack of available spectrum to meet the growing demand for data services in the country, which Ericsson’s North America CTO and head of strategy Glenn Laxdal said is growing “at a rate of more than 50 per cent, while revenue for operators grows comparatively in the single digits”.
He said that while next year’s US incentive auction will help, “even though its not a large amount”, the recent AWS-3 spectrum, which raised approximately $45 billion, showed “just how valuable spectrum is”.
Laxdal said the country now needs to look “towards a 2020 timeframe, in particular for 5G, when the industry will need access to large blocks of spectrum in 100GB blocks”.
Counterpart Matt Grob, EVP and CTO at Qualcomm, conformed, stating that “fair and reasonable access to spectrum remained the biggest challenge in the US to deploy networks where they are needed”, while ZTE’s Sean Cai, VP CTO team, said the problem lies in regulating the amount of spectrum available, which could present even bigger challenges once 5G comes around.
“With 4G, you see pockets of spectrum being used, but you need deep coverage to fulfil what 5G is intended to do, even in rural parts of the country, and that will be the biggest challenge.”
Cai believes that as well as providing more spectrum, the country’s operators need to look at ways to use the spectrum that is available more effectively.
“A way to address the challenge is to combine spectrum, as well as spectrum sharing, particularly in rural parts of the country. This could be part of the solution, even if operators don’t like it. In the future, it is inevitable that spectrum is limited.”