Study of 5G spectrum availability shows importance of U.S. action to expand pipeline and license lower 3 GHz band

2 July, 2020 - WASHINGTON, USA: The U.S. needs to expand its 5G spectrum pipeline and license the lower 3 GHz band for commercial use in order to keep pace with other countries that are moving aggressively to make mid-band spectrum available for next-generation 5G networks, according to a new study from Analysys Mason.

The study finds that the U.S. has no licensed spectrum today in a key swath of mid-band spectrum from 3.3-3.6 GHz, while other benchmark countries that have made these airwaves available average nearly 200 megahertz. If the U.S. government moved quickly to make the lower 3 GHz band available for commercial 5G operations, the U.S. would become a “leading benchmark” country in this area, according to Analysys Mason.

“The FCC is making great progress with the auctions of 3.5 GHz and 3.7 GHz mid-band spectrum this year. This study shows how crucial it is for the U.S. to replicate that success particularly in the lower 3 GHz range,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO. “The Administration and the FCC need to develop a meaningful plan to make significant new spectrum resources in the lower 3 GHz band available for commercial use on terms that will allow robust 5G deployments—and quickly.”

Mid-band spectrum is the key to 5G networks because of its blend of capacity and range. A report earlier this year from Analysys Mason showed that the U.S. needs to effectively double its amount of mid-band in order to keep pace with Japan, China, South Korea and other countries.

In the U.S., the lower 3 GHz band is the only near-term opportunity for additional licensed mid-band spectrum. Internationally, lower 3 GHz spectrum is considered a 5G priority because it allows device and network equipment manufacturers to build to globally harmonized, international specifications, reducing network deployment and consumer costs.

To conduct the study, Analysys Mason looked at the amount of spectrum currently available, as well as the amount being considered for future allocation, in 14 key countries.

Other key findings include:

  • The U.S. is a global leader in low-band spectrum availability. Other countries are moving aggressively in this range, and commercial access to the 1.3 GHz and 1.7 GHz bands will be an important element of continued U.S. low-band leadership.
  • The U.S. leads the world in licensed high-band spectrum. However, other countries, such as China, are also looking to make significant amounts of high-band spectrum available for 5G use.
  • The U.S. has tipped the scales in favor of unlicensed spectrum, making around three times as much spectrum available for unlicensed as for licensed.

“With this study, we wanted to take a longer-term look at potential spectrum availability that other countries are considering,” said Janette Stewart, a Principal with Analysys Mason and the lead author of the study. “The U.S. is in a very strong position on low- and high-band spectrum, but our work makes clear that mid-band—and the lower 3 GHz range in particular—should remain at the forefront of policymaker efforts.”

The full study is available at here.

**About Analysys Mason ** Analysys Mason is a leading global adviser on telecoms, media and technology. Analysys Mason works with operators, regulators and end users to design winning strategies that deliver measurable results, make informed decisions based on market intelligence and analytical rigor, develop innovative proposals to gain competitive advantage and implement operational solutions to improve business efficiency. With over 280 staff in 17 offices worldwide, we are respected internationally for our exceptional quality of work, independence and flexibility in responding to client needs. Analysys Mason has been operating for over 30 years. Over the past three years Analysys Mason has conducted nearly 100 5G-related projects, in 21 countries, for 46 different clients and as well as authoring several reports for CTIA, including the mid-band spectrum report.

**About CTIA ** CTIA® ( represents the U.S. wireless communications industry and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem that enable Americans to lead a 21st century connected life. The association’s members include wireless carriers, device manufacturers, suppliers as well as apps and content companies. CTIA vigorously advocates at all levels of government for policies that foster continued wireless innovation and investment. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices, hosts educational events that promote the wireless industry and co-produces the industry’s leading wireless tradeshow. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C.

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