Future of Asia’s Digital Economy at Risk

5 August 2015, London: John Giusti, Deputy Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, commented on the outcome of the final meeting of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity’s Conference Preparatory Group (APG) in Seoul, ahead of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15):

“The GSMA is disappointed with the APG’s decision to date to identify only 51MHz of additional spectrum for mobile broadband at WRC-15. This represents an increase of less than five per cent over the total amount of spectrum currently identified for the region. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that governments need much more – double the amount of mobile spectrum available today – to meet the growing consumer demand for data. With 4G rising and 5G on the horizon, and without more spectrum identified, this means that Asia Pacific cannot benefit from economies of scale and affordable connectivity and puts the future of its digital economy at risk.

“While we are pleased that the APG has identified a portion of the L-band for mobile broadband, we encourage Asia Pacific countries to follow the lead of governments in Africa, the Americas and Europe in looking to make more of the L-band spectrum (1427-1518MHz) available for mobile broadband during WRC-15.

“We are also disappointed that the APG has decided not to make spectrum in the under-utilised 2.7-2.9GHz band available for mobile broadband in dense urban areas. Additional capacity spectrum in higher frequency bands is vital, particularly in those countries where the 2.7-2.9GHz band is an important alternative to the C-band (3.4-4.2GHz).

“It is vital that we find additional spectrum for future use by mobile broadband in the Asia Pacific region to meet the increasing mobile data needs of consumers and businesses in the years ahead. According to GSMA Intelligence, in the first quarter of 2015, Asia Pacific was home to 1.8 billion unique subscribers and nearly 3.8 billion connections, accounting for half of the world’s unique subscribers and connections. As the region is also expected to grow at a faster pace than the rest of the world, with 600 million new subscribers anticipated by 20201 , it is critical that governments identify more spectrum for mobile now to meet this future demand. The GSMA will continue to work with governments in the region to ensure that their citizens are not left behind, further exploring options for supporting more sub-700MHz, L-band, 2.7-2.9GHz and C-band spectrum at the WRC-15.”

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