Wires

Telecoms lobby hails international deal to allocate spectrum to 5G

BERLIN, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The telecoms industry hailed an international agreement reached on Friday to allocate high-capacity spectrum to 5G mobile services that it said would open the way to launch new applications in fields ranging from manufacturing to healthcare.

A month-long summit of the International Telecommunications Union hammered out a treaty text that will harmonise the allocation of so-called millimetre-wave frequencies in the 26 Gigahertz (GHz), 40 GHz and 66 GHz ranges.

The GSMA, which represents 750 mobile operators and another 350 firms in the industry, praised a compromise that it said would support the growth of 5G without interfering with critical services that also rely on satellite communications.

"We reached a consensus on technical parameters that would allow robust 5G services and also fully protect the passive services in the adjacent bands, such as weather forecasting," said Brett Tarnutzer, head of spectrum at the GSMA.

The high-band spectrum offers high data speeds that would support applications such as virtual and augmented reality, the remote control of industrial robots, self-driving cars and super-fast downloads of movies in high definition.

The GSMA had clashed ahead of the World Radiocommunications Conference in Egypt with U.S. defense, aerospace and weather officials who warned that 5G might interfere with sensors used in weather and climate forecasting.

For the mobile industry, harmonisation across the 190 members of the ITU, a United Nations Forum, is vital to ensure that markets do not fragment. Trade and technology frictions between the United States and China are already causing their telecoms markets to diverge.

Much of the world - including Asia and Europe - is basing first-generation 5G services on mid-frequency spectrum in the 3GHz range that provides greater range than high-band spectrum but slower data transmission speeds.

The United States, meanwhile, is launching 5G with a mix of low- and high-band frequency because much mid-band spectrum is already committed, for example to the military. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed auctioning some mid-band spectrum next year to address that shortage. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)