Mobile broadband spectrum shortage requires immediate action


- Mobile broadband spectrum allocation insufficient for growing traffic demand

- Immediate government action necessaryin countries and multilateral institutions

Paris, 18 October– The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) today called for governments and regulators to accelerate efforts to allocate and assign adequate spectrum to support the ever-increasing demand for mobile broadband.

In a discussion paper developed by the ICC Task Force on Internet and Telecoms Infrastructure and Services (IT IS), ICC expressed concern about the strain on spectrum supply to meet the demand created by the growing number of subscribers and machine-to-machine technologies, and by the increasing consumption of voice minutes and data capacity. ICC emphasized that it does not attach a greater importance to the use of spectrum for one particular mobile technology over another, and saidthat mobile broadband spectrum policy must co-exist with other critical societal priorities such as broadcast services.

Eric Loeb, Chair of IT IS, said: “Given the enormous contribution of mobile broadband to innovation, competition and economic growth in developed and developing countries, it is crucial that the unprecedented potential of mobile broadband is not stifled by a lack of adequate spectrum.” The ICC paper citesa recent Ovum study that has demonstrated that annual productivity gains in the US resulting from wirelessly enabling business applications will grow to US$130 billion by 2016. It also notes remarks by NeelieKroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, who said that “Services which rely on spectrum represent 2% to 2.5% of annual EU gross domestic product (GDP), i.e. more than €250 billion according to a study undertaken by the Commission.”

The speed at which governments implement additional spectrum plans is critical. “The skyrocketing uptake of 3G services and mobile devices isalreadyputting tremendous pressure on the current spectrum allocations,” saidMr Loeb. “As 4G adoption kicks in widely, that pressure will substantially increase. This entirely predictable spectrum shortage needs to be tackled as a priority today.”

The ICC paper calls on governments and regulators to recognize the following key factors:

  • Globally harmonizing spectrum reduces equipment costs, saving consumers money and promoting the deployment of new technologies and services.

  • Licensing regimes that include mobile network operators that manage scarce spectrum, as well as mobile resale licenses, will encourage competition, a technology-neutral approach and the efficient use of the spectrum.

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