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GSMA accuses space industry of ‘protectionism’


The telecoms industry mustn’t let “misinformation and the overly protectionist attitudes of the space industry derail the 5G revolution,” the GSMA trade body has warned.

A new report from the GSMA finds that releasing 5G mmWave capacity could create $565 billion (€506.9 billion) of economic growth – with a particularly significant impact on developing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America.

New 5G mmWave spectrum will be allocated at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), being held from 28 Oct to 22 Nov in Egypt.

The GSMA warns that: “All of this economic growth hinges on the availability of access to a specific strand of radio waves, known as millimetre waves. This economically critical spectrum and the 5G services it will enable are under threat due to a territorial dispute triggered by the space industry.”

Consequences for society

Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA, said that “over-stringent protection” could limit the spectrum needed for 5G and have “huge consequences for society”.

The “space industry” is agreed that societal impacts are at stake – but sees the priorities differently. Meteorologists are pushing to protect the frequencies which are critical for Earth observation from space and say that lives could potentially be at risk otherwise.

Scientists have warned that  5G systems could harm weather forecasting. One concern that has been raised, for example, is around the 23.8 GHz frequency. Water vapour emits a faint signal at this wavelength, and that data is monitored and measured by weather satellites for forecasts.

Some weather experts say 5G phone networks may transmit near a frequency similar to that emitted by water vapour, and so could skew readings or make them invalid.

The GSMA’s new Regional Spotlights: Impact of 5G mmWave report is freely available.swiss