Published in COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES No. 90, 2nd Quarter 2013
The radio spectrum: A shift in paradigms?
Summary of this issue: Demand for the use of the radio spectrum is constantly and rapidly growing, not only as a means of carrying Internet traffic, but also for new or expanding use by the military, public protection and disaster relief, at the same time that more traditional applications such as aeronautical, maritime, and radio astronomy remain. Is spectrum policy entering a trackless wilderness, or can a new direction and a new set of paradigms be expected to emerge? The contributions to this special issue of Communications & Strategies cover a great deal of ground. They serve to provide valuable signposts for spectrum policy going forward.
Interview with Gilles BRÉGANT
CEO of ANFR.
(French national spectrum agency)
Conducted by Frédéric PUJOL,
Head of the radio technologies & spectrum practice, IDATE
C&S: What are ANFR's main priorities in the coming two years as far as Spectrum management is concerned?
The Agence nationale des Fréquences (ANFR) is the French public Agency in charge of radio spectrum management. It is placed under the jurisdiction of the Minister responsible for Electronic Communications (Mr. Arnaud Montebourg and Ms. Fleur Pellerin since May 2012) but all the Ministries using spectrum are represented at ANFR's board. Besides, ANFR's decisions regarding spectrum allocation are actually taken by the Prime Minister since spectrum, in France, is a state affair.
Spectrum management priorities will be closely linked to the governmental decisions and digital economy needs for the following years and to the international and European agenda.
A. Create the conditions of mobile broadband (4G) success in France
4G allows very high data flow rates and significantly increased user comfort: lightning-fast downloads, and a more fluid navigation become possible on smartphones or tablets. This opens up opportunities for new services in mobility, such as access to audiovisual content. A factor of innovation, growth and job creation, 4G is one of the priorities of the Government. ANFR has been deeply involved for the development of European harmonized conditions for the usage of 4G and is currently mobilized to make a success for the introduction of this new technology.
Since December 2012, the Agency has published a 4G roll out observatory. This tool will be key to monitor 4G infrastructures deployment, carrier by carrier.
However, the 4G challenge will be a tricky one when it comes to spectrum management since the 800 MHz 4G can interfere with DTT. ANFR uses its resources devoted to the protection of TV reception so that the 4G 800 MHz and TNT coexist harmoniously.
The ANFR intervenes at every stage of the deployment:
- it actively participates in the communication towards local elected officials, professionals and the general public on these operations;
- during the phases of deployment, it collects and instructs the claims of viewers through its call center;
- it oversees the resolution of the problem by operators if the interference comes from the 4G 800 MHz. A professional intervenes, most often to insert a filter in the reception of the TNT facility.
The TV reception is therefore guaranteed for each viewer. The full cost of interventions is supported by mobile operators.
B. Prepare the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC)
In 2012, we have drawn the immediate consequences of the WRC-12. In 2014, the delegations will develop first arbitrations of WRC-15. In 2013, national positions must be taken.
One of the challenges of this Conference will be the question of the future of the 700 MHz band. In France, it is now assigned to audiovisual. Since the debates on the first digital dividend, five years ago, the terms of the problem have been well known: the use of mobile Internet is expected to grow regularly in the coming years to meet the expectations of very mobile broadband. But this demand for broadband is common to all sectors: the audiovisual sector wants to keep these frequencies to offer new services: generalization of high definition, introduction of ultra high definition or 4K for example. And Government services, such as those of the Ministry of the Interior, also want to access services such as video for safety services.
In this debate, three ideas seem inevitable:
- there is not enough spectrum available under 1 GHz to satisfy fully each need;
- France is not an island, and it will have to act in harmony with its Western European neighbors;
- Europe will have to play an important role.
ANFR, as it manages the entire spectrum and guaranties technical neutrality, is coordinating the preparatory work at the national and international levels. ANFR, which is already contributing to the preparation of the next WRC, is involved in various entities in CEPT and UIT involved in this process and is bringing its technical expertise to the Government so that a decision can be taken in the best conditions.
ANFR is also an active member of the RSPG ad hoc group, which will provide recommendation to European Commission on WRC issues and on the identification of 1200 MHz for wireless broadband.
C. Facilitate the deployment of the 6 new DTT channels
Since December 12, 2012, 25% of the French population can access 6 new HD channels with their DTT HD TV sets. Free to air TV is no longer limited to generalist channels. Every French citizen, and not only the ones with cable, satellite or IPTV subscriptions, will be able to watch specialized channels on areas such as sports, travels, diversity and so on by 2015.
The years to come will see more of the French population covered by the new HD DTT channels.
The Agency, together with the CSA, has the mission to assist viewers in solving their TV reception problems through its call center and its dedicated website, "www.recevoirlatnt.fr", in collaboration with local aerial installers. If necessary, it will grant funding provided by the State to viewers who have lost DTT reception.
What are the expected evolutions as far as new ways of sharing spectrum are concerned? What are their consequences on spectrum management?
First, it is important to recall that spectrum sharing is already a reality with short range devices operating under a general authorization on a non interference and non protection basis. This is the case for Wifi in the 2.45 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This is also the case of all applications using ultra wide band devices which are sharing spectrum thanks to a very low power density. UWB technology was also used in sectors such as automobile and aeronautics.
What about Licensed Shared Access (LSA)?
The objective of an LSA approach is to facilitate the introduction of additional users operating with individual spectrum rights of use in specific bands and on a shared basis with an incumbent user, thus allowing predictable quality of service for all rights holders. These arrangements will need sufficient flexibility in order to account for national particularities, in relation to the administration of spectrum.
LSA could be introduced as a regulatory approach to release spectrum. In addition to conventional planning methods, cognitive radio technologies and their capabilities (geolocation databases, sensing, etc.) could be taken into account as enablers for sharing under the LSA approach.
ANFR engineers are actively participating in European works, at the ECC level for instance, on this issue, which is still in its early stages.
700 MHz band: what are the stakes and constraints?
World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) 2012 decided that for the Region 1 the 694-790 MHz band will be allocated to mobile service co primary with broadcast services, this allocation becoming effective after WRC-15.
The issues at stake in the preparatory works for the WRC-15 are each tied to technical and negotiated matters. The possible refinement of the lower band edge (694 MHz) is one issue up for debate during the preparatory works. The second stake is the identification of a harmonized channelling arrangement, that is to say, the uplink and downlink bands. Finally, technical matters such as sharing studies between mobile and DTT at 694 MHz and the consequence of this on the necessary guard band are also to be clarified through the preparatory works for the WRC-15.
Regarding the choice, and its consequences, between IMT and broadcast, WRC was the starting point. The next steps are European decisions and national arbitrages.
2013 will be the year of public exposure to electromagnetic fields in France (ANSES report, Abeille Bill…): what is the role of ANFR as far as exposition control is concerned?
First, the Agency has no sanitary or health prerogatives, its expertise and missions only rely on technical matters.
The Agency monitors the respect by radiocommunication network operators of the public exposure to electromagnetic fields limits. The legal limits are the ones of a 1999 European Recommendation. Besides, by Law, the Agency has to make an inventory of "atypical" points, that is, the points where the exposure is significantly above the national average (while still below the limits). ANFR also elaborates the protocol used to measure the public exposure to electromagnetic fields. ANFR is also in charge of devices monitoring (phones, smartphones, tablets…). We insure that DAS limits (2 W/kg) are respected. We also check if the necessary information is properly provided to consumers.
2013 will indeed be the year of public exposure to electromagnetic fields. It began with the Bill introduced by MP Ms. Abeille from the Environmentalist Party. This Bill was forwarded to the Parliament Economic Commission for further analysis.
In 2013, we will publish our report on technical experiments which were lead in France to assess the possibility to reduce public exposure to electromagnetic fields due to mobile operators antennae without decreasing coverage and quality of service. Such experiment is a world premiere until now. 2013 will also be the year when ANSES, the French sanitary authorities, publishes its new report on the sanitary effects of such a field.
The Agency is a neutral, technical expert in that area. By participating in public meetings, advising elected officials and also the general public through its website Cartoradio, the Agency participates in turning this potential concern into a serene public debate. Finally, in 2013 we will provide a mobile version of Cartoradio, with the location of all mobile based-stations and the results of more than 26,000 field measures.
The ANFR organizes an international Conference on June 26 and 27 2013 entitled "Spectrum & Innovation": what is it about?
The Conference "Spectrum and Innovation" was instigated by Ms. Fleur Pellerin, delegated Minister in charge of Small businesses, Innovation and Digital Economy. We want the Conference to be a major event in 2013 for the digital economy sector in general and radiofrequencies in particular. The objective is to show to a large audience of professionals from the digital economy how spectrum is key to their sector and how this resource is crucial to economic growth in the coming years.
Different themes will be dealt with: how mobility is shaping our society and stimulating innovation, how radiofrequencies constitute a growth leverage for industry and small businesses, or even the spectrum needs for 2020. To debate on these subjects only experts in their fields have been chosen. The Conference will also be a chance to listen to influential and renowned speakers: Ministers, European and foreign institutions officials, renowned academics and business leaders (BBC, Bouygues Telecom, Cisco, Eutelsat, France Télévisions, Free Mobile, IBM, M6, NRJ Group, Orange, Qualcomm, Renault, SFR, TDF, TF1…).
We expect these two days to shows us what exciting new developments can be in store in the coming years. The Conference will prove how spectrum can foster innovation, growth and job creation.
Gilles BRÉGANT was born in Chambery in September 1963. He graduated from Ecole Polytechnique (1986) and from Telecom ParisTech (1988). Following an 8-year-career at France Telecom research center, Gilles Brégant was appointed technical adviser to the Minister in charge of Research (1996-1997). He had to coordinate international projects and themes in relation with information technology. He then worked for the department of trade and industry as deputy director in charge of Prospective. He was appointed secretary general of the ministerial task force "Digital Economy" (2001-2005). He was then appointed Technical Director of Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (the French Media Regulator) in 2005. Gilles Brégant is the CEO of ANFR since 2011.
Published in COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES No. 90, 2nd Quarter 2013
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