21 October, 2019

WRC-19: EU telcos call for empowering citizens through ambitious global spectrum policy

Brussels, Sharm el Sheikh, 21 October 2019 – ETNO, the Association representing Europe’s leading telecom operators, welcomes the Radiocommunication Assembly 2019 and the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2019 (WRC-19). The meeting has the potential to be a major milestone, as it will update the Radio Regulations at a time in which 5G innovation takes off across geographies.

WRC-19 provides the global regulatory basis for the development of mobile radio services and, therefore, set the foundations for the next generation mobile services and allow a further expansion of the existing ones.

Empowering citizens requires forward-looking spectrum policy

European citizens expect to have high-speed, high-quality digital access at all times and in all places. At the same time, data consumption from consumers keeps on rising, with demand for media content in the mobile broadband segment rapidly expanding. This includes access to video-streaming services, but also services at the edge of innovation, such as Virtual Reality. In addition, 5G applications are re-shaping how manufacturers and innovators go about production and creation processes, with projections pointing to the booming of the Internet-of-Things (IoT). What is more, IoT will be require ultra-reliable and low latency communication, while at the same time being empowered by Artificial Intelligence.

Mobile network operators are constantly working on adapting the capacity and versatility of their networks to accommodate both the increase of data traffic and network-led innovation. Densification of network structures and deployment of more efficient innovative technologies are basic measures to respond to the exponentially growing needs. However, without additional allocation and identification of International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum (IMT), it will not be possible to secure the provision of future mobile broadband services in an economical manner and to meet the expectations of consumers and of vertical industries alike.

A global 5G requires ambitious global rules

WRC-19 decisions have the potential to ensure steady and predictable supply of new harmonized spectrum, which in turn can enable the growth of the mobile broadband and provide a unique boost to sustainable economic growth at the national and European level. In particular, WRC-19 decisions will be critical for the future performance and deployment of 5G networks.

Only a WRC can allocate spectrum on a global basis and identify it for IMT, which is the best solution for the development of a harmonised technology and harmonised mobile services. Without a WRC decision there are no real harmonised “global bands”, nor harmonised mobile services – which require economies of scale –  and hence no real market success for mobile services in a certain frequency band.

ETNO, together with its 39 members and observers from Europe and beyond, has actively contributed to the European preparatory work for WRC-19. In this context, ETNO has identified the following key issues in which a proactive role of the ITU Member States can make a difference:

  • Support the identification of globally harmonised spectrum in the bands 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, and 66-71 GHz for IMT with technical conditions that are carefully balanced, pragmatic and supportive of 5G growth, while ensuring coexistence with adjacent services. These are key bands that could provide large bandwidth to allow the highest throughput services for 5G in the mid-term. ETNO has also interest for the band 45.5-47 GHz. (Agenda Item 1.13)
  • Support a WRC-23 agenda that contains items which enable a) the discussion on a primary mobile allocation in the band 470-694 MHz or part thereof in Region 1 (preliminary Agenda Item 2.5 of WRC-23), as well as b) discussions for possible IMT identification below 24 GHz , with focus on bands 3.8-4.2 GHz (adjacent to the 3.4-3.8 GHz pioneer 5G band to provide up to 800 MHz of contiguous spectrum in Europe), 6425-7125 MHz and 14.3-15.35 GHz, including primary mobile allocation for 3.6-4.2 GHz. For the future expansion of 5G, a timely supply of spectrum below 24 GHz, offering reasonable capacity and propagation characteristics, is of key importance to respond to the intensely growing data usage around year 2025-2030. (Agenda Item 10)


As the identification and allocation of spectrum bands is a long and complex technical and regulatory process, ETNO encourages Member States to timely identify additional mobile spectrum enabling the provisions of massive data capacity. This is essential for ensuring that the future 5G deployments will not be hindered.

Lise Fuhr, ETNO Director General, said: “ETNO encourages governments to be bold. WRC-19 can be a historic milestone in empowering sustainable growth through mobile access. Only an ambitious global spectrum policy can ensure swift and transformative roll-out of 5G networks”.

© ETNO 2019
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