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Feb 3, 2020

International Comparison: Licensed, Unlicensed, and Shared Spectrum, 2017-2020 .

International Comparison: Licensed, Unlicensed, and Shared Spectrum, 2017-2020 document cover


International Comparison: Licensed, Unlicensed, and Shared Spectrum, 2017-2020


Overall Findings

Our objective has been to provide a summary of the amount of new spectrum released (or expected to be released) for 5G in selected markets, between 2017 and 2020, including the licensing approaches used. The intention is to highlight the amounts of spectrum being made available in different markets on an exclusively licensed basis for 5G, or on an unlicensed or dynamically shared basis.

This report builds on analysis conducted as part of Analysys Mason’s “Global Race to 5G – Update” report for CTIA, published in April 2019. We have again benchmarked the situation in the U.S. against hat in thirteen other countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.

Our key conclusions are:

  • The U.S. is currently an outlier in terms of the amount of spectrum bands being brought to market on an unlicensed or shared basis, as the chart overleaf illustrates. Nearly all spectrum in the benchmark countries being made available in this time range has been via exclusive licensing to mobile network operators (MNOs) for wide-area deployment.
  • All countries studied, except the U.S., have made mid-band spectrum available (or will do so by the end of 2020) in the 3.4-5.0GHz range via exclusive wide-area licenses. The U.S. is unique in terms of the approach to licensing of the initially available mid-band spectrum. Unlike other markets, initially available mid-band spectrum in the U.S. is not being licensed on an exclusive wide-area basis and is being made available on a dynamically shared/unlicensed basis.
  • We understand that a policy debate is ongoing in the U.S. re: the 6GHz band, with unlicensed interests seeking the entire 1200MHz of the band, while commercial wireless providers seek licensed access to the upper portion. Our research shows that EU countries are in the process of harmonizing only the lower part (5925-6425MHz) of the 6GHz band for unlicensed use.
  • In the low-band frequencies (<3GHz), all benchmark countries in ITU regions 1 and 2 (including the U.S.) have already released licensed, exclusive use spectrum for 5G (or are expected to do so by the end of 2020) in either the 600 MHz or 700MHz band. With the U.S. 600MHz auction completed in February 2017, the U.S. was one of the first markets in the world to release new low-band spectrum suitable for 5G.
  • In the high-band frequencies (>24Ghz), most benchmark countries have made, or will make, available at least 1GHz of spectrum in the 26GHz and/or 28/GHz bands on an exclusively licensed basis (including FCFS local licensing) for 5G use, with several countries planning to make available more than this amount, across part of the band from 24.25-29.5GHz. The U.S. has made more high-band spectrum available, within several different bands (24GHz, 28GHz, 37GHz, 39GHz, and 47GHz). The U.S> and the U.K. have also made available spectrum in the 64-71GHz band range on an unlicensed basis – more countries are expected to make this band available for mobile use, following the decision taken at WRC-19 to identify this frequency range for us by IMT.

Download the full report to read more.

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