August 28, 2014 — New models of spectrum management are being proposed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Among the recommendations the organization puts forth is to persuade various license holders to share their spectrum for unlicensed applications.
One of those recommendations is to hold “incentive auctions” to entice licensees like broadcasters to release some of their spectrum for small cell usage. The OECD is concerned that spectrum conditions, such as those in Australia where there are already more wireless devices than people, will lead to either spectrum hoarding or gouging, slowing the movement for small cell deployments.
But the reason is a bit deeper than “just play nice.” In some places, spectrum is so crowded that companies such as Wilocity (the Qualcomm acquisition target) are looking at the 60-GHz WiGig specification as a solution to the saturation of the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz Wi-Fi bands.
A paper by the OECD discusses mechanisms such as Authorized Shared Access (ASA) and Licensed Shared Access (LSA) as possible technologies that can offer some relief to the ever-tightening bandwidth net. ASA is a scheme developed by Qualcomm and Nokia. It brokers a set of conditions whereby an existing licensee and a limited number of new licensees would agree to share spectrum.
Emerging technologies such as software-defined radio/cognitive radio, and geolocation databases will allow a wireless device to identify quiet channels in its immediate surroundings.
Possible frequency bands in which sharing would be allowed include:
• 1.675 – 1.710 GHz in the United States used for meteorological applications.
• 1.755 – 1.780 GHz in the United States has a variety of U.S. government applications.
• 2.3 – 2.4 GHz in Europe. These bands already have defense, radiolocation and broadcasting support applications existing within them.
• 3.550 – 3.650 GHz in the United States – home for radiolocation and aeronautical users.
• 3.4 – 3.8 GHz worldwide, the 3GPP E-UTRA (Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access) bands.
The report also notes that relaxed spectrum rules could encourage the use of femtocells. Currently, femtocell deployment is limited to boxes supplied by spectrum owners, but the experience from countries such as Japan and the Netherlands is that competitive supply of femtocells hasn’t brought cellular networks to ruin as was predicted by the carriers.
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cell Magazine.