Licensing 2.6GHz band is critical to success of LTE - GSMA

The 2.6GHz band should be licensed to mobile operators to quickly unlock the benefits of global scale economies in the mobile broadband market, claims a new study sponsored by the mobile operator industry trade body, the GSMA.

"There is clear evidence that the volume of data flowing over mobile networks is growing rapidly and is being accelerated by the popularity of smartphones and the growth in music and video downloads," said Tom Phillips, chief regulatory affairs officer at the GSMA. "The report highlights that the 2.6 GHz band will allow operators to address rapidly increasing traffic volumes in an efficient and harmonised way. Recent licensing of this band in Hong Kong, Norway, Finland and Sweden, for example, has highlighted that there is more demand for paired (FDD) than unpaired spectrum (TDD) and that the ITU's recommended Option 1 plan is the best structure to stimulate market growth in a technology-neutral and competitive environment."

The European allocation of the 2.6GHz spectrum has been making progress under the ITU Option 1 plan, with growing acceptance at EU level that a harmonised approach is better for all European countries. The study, conducted by US-based research firm Global View Partners, suggested that leaving the band unstructured for auctions or with a diverse mix of non-harmonised FDD and TDD allocations could lead to interference management issues in border regions, in addition to high equipment costs.

The research also highlighted that, in many cases, the 2.6GHz frequency would be the first opportunity for mobile operators to acquire 2x20MHz of contiguous spectrum, enabling them to operate high-speed LTE services at optimum performance.

Licensing of the 2.6GHz band has already taken place in Hong Kong, Norway, Finland and Sweden, while most European countries as well as Brazil, Chile, Colombia and South Africa are planning to award 2.6 GHz frequencies within the next two years.

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