The GSMA, the operators' global industry body, is calling on governments to preserve the telco monopoly over spectrum.
Joe Guan, head of policy for GSMA Greater China, says the allocation of frequencies directly to industry verticals was inefficient and would lead to fragmentation.
Mobile operators' exclusive ownership and management of spectrum was "tried and tested," Guan told Light Reading.
"It works. Our members have a lot of valuable experience both in terms of network deployment and also how to efficiently use spectrum."
He said industry verticals were fragmented, and the issue of frequencies directly to enterprises would increase fragmentation of the spectrum resource.
"For one that creates unnecessary complexity for the government to manage. You're more likely to have harmful interference between different services.
"The fragmentation reduces the efficiency of spectrum being used. So we think instead of giving up spectrum to hundreds of industries or vertical users … the best thing to do is to allocate the spectrum to the mobile industry."
He also argued that the emergence of network slicing – the ability of 5G networks to assign a dedicated slice of spectrum with customized functionality – eliminates the need for enterprises to manage their own spectrum.
"We can have dedicated tailor-made and customized services that our members can provide to verticals to meet their needs."
Guan said so far 5G takeup "is actually moving quicker than 4G," most likely because of the early availability of good handsets.
But he acknowledged that "the [5G] revenue contribution is more kind of troubling for us because it's not growing as fast as we want it to be."
He said operators expect enterprise services revenue to be much more significant in the 5G era.
"That's been small in the past. But we expect it to grow much, much faster and be much, much bigger in 5G."
Yet the GSMA pushback against enterprise spectrum could be too little too late, especially with big markets such the US, Japan and Germany already embarked on various kinds of 5G private network schemes. (See Mirantis co-founder targets 5G 'oligopoly' with private networks startup FreedomFi and Telcos & Enterprises: 5G Friends or Foes?)
Among major telecom markets, only China is yet to set aside dedicated spectrum for industry use.
Aside from the warning on enterprise spectrum, a new GSMA report is also asking governments to help provide access to public sites for 5G basestations.
Guan said site acquisition had been a growing problem for operators, "whether from gaining site access, rights of way or higher rents. We expect that problem to get worse for 5G."
Governments can play a huge role in facilitating better access to sites – from street lampposts to access to government-owned buildings or properties, he said.
Access to these "would be a really good relief for operators," Guan said.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading