As the ever-increasing demand for wireless technologies ratchets up the need for spectrum resources, spectrum sharing is gaining new interest as a strategy to make efficient use of the available airwaves.
While the U.S. is on the verge of kicking off initial commercial deployments of the shared Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum, the Netherlands’ communications regulator has decided to go ahead with allowing Licensed Shared Access of mid-band spectrum, after a pilot project allowing cellular spectrum to be used in the field to support video and entertainment applications.
ETSI noted this week that the LSA approach which the Dutch regulator is supporting is defined under ETSI standards. The Dutch have been testing LSA since 2017, ETSI said, reporting that “the experience of the participants during the pilot was very positive; they perceived the required protection of their use and a decrease of interference problems.
“The Netherlands is now likely to be the first European country to deploy a permanent LSA service based on ETSI specifications in the 2.3-2.4 GHz frequency band,” ETSI said.
Radiocommunications Agency Netherlands, the Dutch regulator, says that it is promoting “smarter, dynamic use of frequencies as a key part of a modern telecommunication infrastructure,” including 5G. In the case of the LSA experiment, ETSI said that its original intent for LSA was to enable deployment of cellular service in the 2.3-2.4 GHz band as secondary, shared users. But the Dutch administration decided to implement LSA for broadcast and entertainment Program Making and Special Events (PMSE) involving wireless cameras and portable video links.
“When deploying a permanent LSA solution, the Dutch administration aims to include other services like radio amateur and governmental spectrum use,” ETSI said, adding that the country’s regulators are “also evaluating deployment of LSA in further frequency bands and an extension to other (PMSE) use, like professional radio microphones, cordless audio distribution, foldback and talkback systems.”
A large-scale LSA pilot was also conducted in Italy in 2016, with involvement from Qualcomm Technologies and Nokia Networks as well as companies including Finland’s Fairspectrum (which has also supported the Dutch LSA effort). That pilot was deployed in an Italian Ministry of Economic Development building in Rome.
Spectrum sharing strategies were the focus of the recent Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Global Summit in Washington, D.C., which held two days of workshops for regulators and one of public discussion on topics ranging from TV white spaces to the C Band satellite spectrum and the potential use of 6 GHz for next-generation Wi-Fi networks. Sharing still faces headwinds, however; mobile network operators typically still prefer the traditional, exclusive-use licensed model. Industry association CTIA just released a report touting the investment of U.S. MNOs in efficient use of their spectrum resources and called for more licensed spectrum to be freed up to meet mobile data demand.
While the technological possibilities of new use cases enabled by spectrum sharing are exciting, Dynamic Spectrum Alliance President Martha Suarez told RCR Wireless News that the impact of connecting people who have previously been unconnected is one of the DSA’s areas of emphasis. She referenced work by presenters Heather Lanigan, regional director for sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Clara Barnett, governance and digital inclusion adviser for Emerging Policy, Innovation and Capability (EPIC) at the U.K. Department for International Development. Lanigan highlighted USTDA’s work including a 2013 partnership with the city of Cape Town focused on digital inclusion for residents of townships outside of the city. USTDA says that tech from more than 10 U.S. companies has been used to extend internet connectivity there, providing jobs and training to local residents. Barnett addressed the digital divide that occurs not only between urban and rural locations, but between male and female populations, due to different societal expectations or perceptions of women having access to the internet, and factors such as whether women feel safe online.
Watch an interview with Suarez below: