LTE Lead analyst, IDATE
Radio technologies and their impact
on spectrum management
In our latest report from our spectrum on-going service, we evaluate the impact of new radio technologies on Spectrum management. It evaluates how these enhancements will help maximize the use of radio spectrum. It focuses on spectrum sharing with analyses on cognitive radio, white spaces, LSA (Licensed Shared Access) and LTE in unlicensed Spectrum.
New radio technologies impact on spectrum management
• Cognitive Radio Systems (CRS) represent important technological innovations that facilitate spectrum sharing. Recent progress with cognitive radio technology could also bring benefits here and allow spectrum sharing on a frequency-, location- and time-sharing basis.
• The ‘white spaces’ concept enables the provision of telecommunication services in underused frequency bands such as the VHF and UHF bands used for TV transmission. It involves cognitive radio techniques and enables opportunistic sharing implementation between a primary user (incumbent) and a secondary one (new users). Developments are under way in the USA, the United Kingdom and in some developing countries in Africa and Asia. In pilots being carried out in Singapore, two methods are being used to determine the presence of existing users within a channel, spectrum sensing and geolocation databases.
• Licensed shared access (LSA) could provide new harmonised spectrum for mobile broadband with predictable QoS guarantees, perhaps removing the political, geographical and time constraints which occur with attempts to clear a new frequency band. LSA is under study in countries with very different positions regarding the 2.3 GHz band.
• Carrier aggregation and supplemental downlink (SDL) are techniques which enable a better use of sparsely-distributed frequency bands. Their combination enables higher data rates and the use of isolated frequency bands such as the L-band in Europe. They do not have any significant impact on spectrum management.
• In November 2013, Qualcomm announced the extension of the use of LTE-Advanced in unlicensed bands. It remains to be seen whether LTE-Advanced operation in unlicensed bands will not generate interference to WiFi users.
• Spectrum sharing is expected to increase in the years to come in order to maximise the use of the scarce resource. Frequency bands used by public users are likely to be open to sharing with commercial users. Spectrum sharing is already a reality today with Collective Use of Spectrum (CUS) in unlicensed frequency bands.