CTIA wants more mid-band spectrum available for 5G

A new Accenture study commissioned by the CTIA analyzed the current allocations of radio spectrum and found that the U.S. wireless industry currently has access to just 5% of the lower mid-band spectrum compared to unlicensed users that have access to seven times that amount and government users that have access to 12 times that amount.

The study is part of an overall effort by the CTIA and the wireless industry to make more spectrum available to support 5G expansion and mobile broadband services.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress Las Vegas event Wednesday, Meredith Atwell Baker, president and CEO of the CTIA, called for more “balance between commercial and government and licensed and unlicensed” spectrum and said that the Congress needs to “direct future auctions” and empower the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications Information Association (NTIA) to commercialize more mid-band spectrum.

That sentiment was echoed by CTIA Chairman David Christopher, EVP and general manager of partnerships and 5G ecosystem development at AT&T. During the MWC Las Vegas keynote Christopher called for the industry to develop a “cogent spectrum roadmap” for licensed spectrum.

Specifically, the Accenture study determined that these three bands hold the most potential:

1.     350 MHz in the 3.1 to 4.5 GHz band –This band is adjacent to the 3.45 GHz band that was recently auctioned and raised more than $21.8 billion in bids.  Accenture noted that commercializing this band would result in lower costs for device makers.

2.     400 MHz in the 4.4 to 4.94 GHz band. This mid-band spectrum is already allocated to wireless carriers in many other countries and a similar allocation in the U.S. would result in international spectrum harmonization.

3.     400 MHz in the 7.125 to 8.4 GHz band. Because this is higher frequency spectrum it would be idea for densely populated areas where there is more traffic and more capacity is needed.

The CTIA says that allocating these three spectrum bands for commercial wireless use would result in unlicensed users still having access to 1.19 times the amount commercial wireless users have and government users having access to 1.34 times the amount of spectrum that commercial wireless users have.