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UMTS900 is ready for ubiquitous, cost-effective 3G coverage
UMTS Forum Joint Workshop emphasizes that global & regional regulatory frameworks are in place allowing development of national decisions

3G industry association the UMTS Forum jointly hosted with GSA a UMTS900 Workshop at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, UAE, on 17 December 2008, alongside the GSM>3G Middle East conference.

Following a similar event held recently in Cape Town on 20 November alongside the Africa.Com conference, the Dubai workshop offered insight into the benefits of deploying WCDMA/HSPA in the 900MHz band. These benefits include increased coverage and in-building penetration, together with lower capex and opex relative to WCDMA/HSPA deployments at 2GHz.

The workshop also addressed the challenges faced by operators in deploying UMTS900. These include fragmented spectrum allocations and co-existence with GSM900, as well as the availability of UMTS900 devices.

Addressing the workshop audience, UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé said:

“GSM900 refarming to UMTS900 will be an ideal opportunity to allocate the totality of the GSM-900 band (including the E-GSM extension part) to all operators in the world where some parts are still used for military and specific applications”.

“UMTS900 spectrum management and licensing is now a national issue that has already been finalised in some countries, such as Finland, France, Estonia, Australia and Iceland”, noted Bienaimé.  “Finalising the regulatory framework in most countries and in particular in Europe, as well as working on the operational aspects – including spectrum allocation, co-existence between GSM and UMTS, deployment strategies in urban and rural areas – are crucial next steps”.

As for Europe, Bienaimé stressed that it would be of utmost importance that the European Parliament rapidly adopts the proposal of amending GSM Directive 87/372/EEC from the European Commission, and in any case by mid 2009.

Bienaimé’s remarks were underlined in a presentation on MENA region perspectives on the UMTS900 Regulatory Framework by Wassim Chourbaji, Director, Government Affairs Europe & MENA at Qualcomm and Member of the UMTS Forum Spectrum Aspects Group,

“In most MENA countries which licensed 3G, the current regulatory framework is rather favourable for a fast deployment of UMTS900” stated Chourbaji. “Whereas in countries that have not yet licensed 3G, UMTS900 should be allowed as part of the mobile and 3G licensing processes. It allows a rapid increase in 3G coverage in an economically efficient manner, contributing significantly to the country’s digital inclusiveness”.