Mobile broadband: It’s about the spectrum, silly

  • Report commissioned by Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm
  • Governments need to formulate spectrum-sharing policies
Mobile broadband: It’s about the spectrum, silly

EARLY access to spectrum for mobile broadband in the so-called ‘C-Band’ is feasible, and likely to generate significant economic benefits, a recent report reveals.
The study demonstrates that spectrum sharing between mobile broadband and current uses such as satellite services could enable larger capacity for networks and higher download speeds.
The independent report by Plum Consulting, commissioned by Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm Technologies, and published first in June 2015, assessed the implications of early access to spectrum in the frequency range 3.4-4.2GHz, the C-Band, the three companies said in a joint statement.
As demand for mobile broadband is forecast to increase by several orders of magnitude over the next 10 to 15 years, additional spectrum for mobile services will become a prerequisite for meeting these needs, they said.
The C-Band plays a key role in this context, as this frequency range is particularly suitable for the evolution of 4G (Fourth Generation) and future 5G innovation.
The report found that early access to spectrum in the C-Band could provide significant additional capacity for network operators to meet growing traffic demand, and secure a good user experience.
It also points to significant economic benefits for this scenario, by enabling larger capacity and higher download speeds than in the current networks, especially in hot spots.
“With mobile demand set to explode over the next decade, additional spectrum needs to be freed up to prevent a shortage,” said Quan Yu, chief strategy officer at Huawei Wireless Product Line.
“The C-Band potentially offers the large contiguous blocks that will be required for mobile broadband use as mobile data traffic grows.
“It may allow mobile operators to address the traffic growth challenge while reducing the costs of service provision and improving end-user quality of experience, making it a key frequency range to explore for future mobile communications.”
The current use of the C-Band varies from one country to another. In the countries studied – Hungary, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom – the benefit would amount to €2.7 billion (US$3 billion) by 2028 for use of the spectrum in an outdoor environment, according to the study.
The use of more advanced sharing techniques could further increase this amount, the report said.
The report also suggests establishing national frameworks to enable spectrum-sharing between mobile broadband and incumbent services to protect them against potential interference from mobile networks, while allowing operators to provide a predictable quality of service.
The sharing mechanisms could be implemented using a Licensed Shared Access (LSA) regulatory approach to incentivise the full sharing potential offered by the band, the report said.
“The potential benefits of sharing between fixed satellite services and mobile communications are vast,” said Qualcomm senior vice president and Qualcomm Europe president Enrico Salvatori.
“In order to make the C-Band available for mobile services, while at the same time protecting incumbent services, administrations need to establish national frameworks for spectrum sharing,” he added.
Jan Färjh, vice president and head of Standardisation and Industry at Ericsson, added, “Making additional spectrum available through release of the C-band is an important factor in avoiding future spectrum deficiencies, and providing increased bandwidth for mobile communication.
“Action is required in the short term to ensure sufficient predictability and regulatory certainty for potential users of the band in the long term.”
The Plum Report comes ahead of the ITU's World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) in November 2015, where the C-Band will figure high on the agenda that will be important for the long-term development of high-speed wireless broadband services.
Related Stories:
AsiaPac telco community gets a spectrum slap from GSMA
Telco Deep Dive: Spectrum refarming in limbo?
IDA to release more spectrum, to allow entry of new operator
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