Governments, telecommunication regulatory and standard development bodies, industries and academia are currently discussing how to shape future 5G systems. 5G is the acronym used to indicate the fifth generation of mobile telecommunications. 5G has gained significant attention worldwide as it is expected to provide substantial social and economic benefits by enabling ubiquitous super-fast connectivity and seamless delivery of mobile communications services. A critical issue for timely 5G deployment is availability of globally harmonised radio spectrum. Possible harmonised allocations to the mobile services for the deployment of 5G will be decided upon at the next World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in 2019 (WRC-19), which will gather together national administrations from almost 200 countries, in Sharm el-Sheikh, from 28 October to 22 November.
Although decisions are formally taken by national administrations at international level, extensive work is actually conducted at regional level before WRCs take place. There exist six regional organisations which are involved in the preparation for WRCs. These are: the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), the Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG), the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC), and the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). The main purpose of these regional organisations is to promote consensus among neighbouring countries in order to facilitate negotiations at WRCs.
More precisely, the preparatory work conducted by regional organisations concludes with the adoption of so-called regional common proposals on the various WRC agenda items. These regional common proposals are used by national administrations as starting points for negotiations at WRCs. In this regard, this study aims to better understand regional preparation to WRCs. In particular, a single case study strategy is chosen to explore how CEPT is carrying out the preparatory work for WRC-19 with regard to mobile spectrum allocations to support 5G deployment. As the forty-eight countries members of CEPT voluntarily choose to cooperate, this study poses the question as to how CEPT create incentives to promote regional consensus. National positions may differ between countries. Therefore, this study also attempts to identify main sub-regional views with respect to the proposed mobile spectrum allocations for 5G.
Based on the results of this study, recommendations may be formulated for national administrations as to howto better coordinate, facilitating decision-making at WRC-19. In addition, general conclusions could be drawn on the importance of regional preparation to WRCs, reflecting upon potential benefits of expanding roles and responsibilities of regional organisations.