GSMA chief regulatory officer John Giusti appealed to governments to agree a harmonisation plan to enable sub-700 MHz spectrum bands to be used for mobile and broadcast during the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva.
Giusti said the sub-700 MHz UHF band, which covers frequencies from 470 MHz to 694 MHz, could be a critical means for governments to extend mobile broadband coverage to citizens across wide areas, including rural and heavily populated urban sites.
He called for governments to agree a co-primary allocation for mobile and broadcast, noting that such consensus would enable spectrum harmonisation that would ultimately cut the cost of compatible devices for consumers by driving economies of scale for equipment capable of accessing the band.
"Today, the UHF band is lightly used for terrestrial broadcasting in many countries. By implementing the latest technologies, these legacy services could be maintained in a smaller amount of spectrum, maximising the use of this valuable spectrum resource by allowing both mobile and broadcasting below 700 MHz," Giusti explained in a statement.
The chief regulatory officer also said that the GSMA is not pushing for terrestrial TV broadcasts to be dropped. Rather, he said existing deployments of co-primary allocations of the sub-700 MHz band throughout the world have proved that the spectrum can support both mobile and broadcast services.
"There is no evidence that the existence of a co-primary allocation to mobile has had a negative impact on broadcast investment," he said, adding: "Indeed, investment should remain strong as long as there is belief in the market for broadcasters' services and in the ability to reach citizens over the terrestrial broadcasting platform."
WRC-15 began on Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 27. The aim of the conference is to review global Radio Regulations and agree any necessary revisions. For example, the GSMA previously predicted the conference would see the 700 MHz band moved from a regional to a globally harmonised band.
Giusti said failure to go beyond that by agreeing harmonisation of the sub-700 MHz band "would put unnecessary constraints on the ability of governments to choose how best to meet the needs of their citizens in the coming decade. Taking into account the WRC cycle, it would likely not be until at least 2023 before governments could revisit allocations in the sub-700 MHz band, with a further five to ten years before it would reach the public in the form of new and innovative services."
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