Chilean spectrum decision delights GSMA but distresses DSA

Chilean spectrum decision delights GSMA but distresses DSA

A lively debate has opened up over Chilean regulator Subtel’s decision to reduce the amount of spectrum it had originally earmarked for Wi-Fi, delighting mobile industry group the GSMA but upsetting Wi-Fi proponents like the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA), which promotes and showcases the value of spectrum sharing.

In fact members of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, together with other companies within the industry, recently met Chile’s Undersecretary of Telecommunications Claudio Araya to review the reasons behind the sudden decision which has left Chile out of what is described as the regional harmonization trend, which, says the DSA, accounts for 67% of the regional population and more than 90% of the Americas GDP.

The decision, adds the DSA, endangers the legal stability of those who have already invested, and had plans to continue investing, in advanced wireless broadband solutions for Chilean users.

Almost two years after the initial decision made by Subtel to enable 1200MHz (5925-7125 MHz) for the evolution of Wi-Fi, the DSA says this change of direction has been met with surprise and concern from the Wi-Fi industry, given that the decision takes away 700MHz of Wi-Fi spectrum, enabling only the lower part of the range (5925-6425 MHz) to be set aside for RLAN technologies like Wi-Fi 6E.

It adds: “This creates constraints for the use of equipment that was being homologated and uncertainty about future availability that allows the evolution towards Wi-Fi 7.”

It was in 2020 that the Chilean government decided to enable 1200MHz for Wi-Fi deployment, an approach later followed, the DSA says, by Brazil, Peru, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

At the meeting with the DSA, Undersecretary Araya apparently said that he seeks to gather information from the industry that will allow him to analyse which would be the best destination for the upper part of the band for Chile in order to make a final decision.

The GSMA, by contrast, describes the move – approvingly – as opening the door to using 6GHz for 5G, by reversing an earlier decision to make the whole 5925-7125MHz band available for Wi-Fi. It says that Chile will now await a potential decision on the band’s future at ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23).

Confusingly the WRC-23 agenda discusses the entire 6425-7125MHz band in only the EMEA region. However, the GSMA argues that there is support for using this spectrum for licensed mobile throughout the world.

The GSMA describes the Chilean move as a ‘welcome update’ and part of a growing realisation that 6GHz is needed to meet future 5G spectrum needs. 

There is still room for a lot more manoeuvring on this issue in the coming months: WRC-23 won’t be begin until November next year.

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