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Mid-band 5G forecast to deliver $610bn GDP growth by 2030

Study shows 5G mid-band spectrum will play a key role in meeting demand for enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access, but to satisfy demand for 5G services by 2030, government action is crucial

A study from the GSMA has predicted that if global governments prioritise mid-band spectrum 5G for the years ahead, services in this area could add more than $610bn to global GDP by 2030.

The economic forecast from the trade association for the global mobile industry showed the extent to which government policies that prioritise mid-band 5G spectrum can aid economic development strategies – a key area of focus for policymakers and regulators.

It calculated that by 2030, 5G spectrum in the 1-7GHz mid-band range will drive nearly 65% of the overall $960bn socio-economic value created by 5G. But it warned that government action is needed to satisfy demand for 5G by 2030 and if no additional mid-band spectrum is allocated to mobile services, the global economy could lose up to $360bn of GDP growth.

It added that if spectrum is constrained to current levels as demand for services grows, increased network congestion and deployment costs will stifle 5G. Network quality and speed could suffer, limiting 5G adoption and its economic impact.

That said, the study pointed to 5G as having the potential to spur innovation across economic sectors, with 75% of the benefits of mid-band 5G coming through the core 5G use cases of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and fixed wireless access (FWA) with fibre-like speeds.

Sectors such as healthcare, education and manufacturing are expected to yield the highest portion of the economic benefit, with the manufacturing sector accounting for almost 40% of growth. Public administration, including smart cities, is also expected to impact the economy significantly.

The forecast also said the impact of mid-band 5G on regional economic growth will be closely aligned around the world. It noted that the CIS and Latin America will lead, with over 0.5% of GDP generated by mid-band 5G in 2030. Meanwhile, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe will see 0.38% in GDP growth, and North America will achieve 0.36%.

However, early adopter 5G markets in Asia Pacific, the Americas, and Europe will account for the most significant share of total global contribution to GDP. The biggest economies and populations will have the largest impact, with East Asia and the Pacific forecast to contribute $218bn to global GDP.

In a call to action, the GSMA said governments and industry need to work together– through WRC-23 and in national processes – to deliver spectrum for fast, affordable services and ensure that 5G can power a new phase of economic growth. It called for an average of 2GHz of mid-band spectrum to be made available for licensed 5G.

While it acknowledged that the most developed communications markets are starting to move closer to this goal, the GSMA stressed that there is still a shortfall of 1GHz in many cases and that fulfilling mid-band needs in harmonised ranges including 3.5GHz, 4.8GHz and 6GHz is required to deliver economies of scale and lower broadband costs.

“Delivering on the 5G promise will require global, regional and local action from governments and industry to make enough mid-band spectrum available,” said Luciana Camargos, head of spectrum at the GSMA. “An average of 2GHz of mid-band spectrum is needed, and there is work to get there. As the world seeks to deliver a new phase of economic development, government planning for 5G expansion is crucial.”

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