According to an updated study from Analysys Mason, commissioned by CTIA, the U.S. must expand its 5G spectrum pipeline in order to keep pace with other countries that are moving rapidly to make licensed mid-band spectrum available for 5G networks.
Following up on a June 2020 study, Analysys Mason found that the U.S. continues to trail leading countries in available licensed mid-band spectrum, a trend expected to continue for the foreseeable future if no action is taken. Today, the U.S. lags the top three studied nations – Japan, the United Kingdom and France – by 530 MHz on average. In five years, the U.S. will continue to lag, trailing the future top three countries by 415 MHz on average.
"In updating this study, we again took a big-picture look at potential spectrum availability that other countries currently have and are considering," said Janette Stewart, a Partner with Analysys Mason. "Our work makes clear that the U.S. lags in licensed mid-band spectrum, critical to fuel 5G innovation."
"The FCC made great progress with recent mid-band spectrum auctions, but this study shows there is more work to be done. We need Congress, the Commission and the Administration to develop a meaningful pipeline plan to build upon our recent success," said Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO. "We look forward to working with policymakers to identify the next set of 5G spectrum auctions, so that the United States maintains our position as leader of the growing 5G economy."
In contrast to the significant deficit in licensed commercial access, Analysys Mason found that the U.S. has more unlicensed mid-band spectrum than any other country, leading the three next highest countries by an average of 150 MHz today. Only two of the countries studies have confirmed plans to make more unlicensed spectrum available in the next five years, and both will continue to trail the U.S.
To conduct the study, Analysys Mason analyzed the amount of spectrum currently available, as well as the amount being considered for future assignment, in 15 key countries, including the U.S.
Other key findings include:
- China is studying making additional licensed mid-band spectrum available, which, if followed through, would result in 1660 MHz of licensed mid-band spectrum being available, outpacing the U.S. by 1210 MHz.
- The U.S. is the only country to date to make unlicensed spectrum available between 3.3 GHz and 4.2 GHz, via the CBRS band.
- The U.S. also risks losing its lead in licensed low- and high-band spectrum in the next five years. Three countries are expected to overtake the U.S. in licensed low-band, by an average margin of 70 MHz, and five will have an average of 1930 MHz more licensed high-band spectrum.
Click here to view the comparison of total mobile spectrum in different markets.