The U.S. will need another 400 MHz of 5G-ready spectrum by 2027 and an additional 1400 MHz by 2033 to meet the demand for wireless broadband, according to a new Brattle Group report, “How Much Licensed Spectrum is Needed to Meet Future Demands for Network Capacity,” commissioned by wireless industry association CTIA.
The research looks at the potential tools that operators can leverage to meet the anticipated capacity gap as consumer demand for 5G grows quickly. The research concludes that the severe shortfall will exist, even if there are extreme improvements in spectral efficiency and additional infrastructure deployment.
America’s 5G and innovation leadership is at risk without the additional spectrum, according to the report. Current plans have the U.S. allocating no additional mid-band spectrum for 5G. Complicating matters, Congress permitted the FCC’s ability to auction spectrum for licensed, commercial use to lapse for the first time in its 30-year history.
The CTIA said the inaction will keep the nation behind other countries for 5G availability. Today the United States trails other countries in 5G spectrum by 378 megahertz on average—a deficit expected to grow to 518 megahertz in five years.
The report helps define the risk of continued inaction on spectrum, Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.
“We need more 5G spectrum to meet increasing data demand, support new innovation and enable the speeds and capacity necessary to fuel future innovation/ We now have a target for future action,” she said.
“More full-powered, exclusive-licensed spectrum is key to both our economic and national security. Letting auction authority lapse sent the wrong signal to the rest of the world. We need to restore it quickly with a defined set of new auctions.”
The CTIA report confirms the spectrum shortfall issue recently discussed in a 5G Americas report.