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Experts weigh in on spectrum use, 5G

Posted: 04 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Spectrum? 5G? cellular? satellite? broadcasting?

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress, carriers and regulators agree that deciding how to utilise 500MHz to 1,000MHz of additional spectrum for current and future 5G services must grow with consensus among multiple industries.

Panellists called for collaboration to avoid what ITU Radiocommunication Bureau Director Fran?ois Rancy called a "seismic spectrum shakeup."

  • We want to establish a stable framework so the decision we take at [the World Radiocommunications Conference] WRC will not be challenged at the next conference. These decisions are what enable trillions of dollars in investment to be made in radio communications networks, terminals, applications and services. I think the decision and amount of spectrum that will be made available by this coming conference for broadband mobile is actually in proportion of the mobile sector to demonstrate that they can share spectrum efficiently with incumbent services.
  • Mirroring Rancy's call to share spectrum among a variety of industries, a panel of experts from the cellular, satellite, broadcasting and networking industries discussed how to best use spectrum.

    Spectrum, 5G experts

    (From left) Francois Rancy, Fernando Borjon, Gordon Smith, Karim Sabbagh, Romano Righetti.

    Moderator Caroline Gabriel, research director of Rethink Technology Research: How is spectrum critical to you and your industry?

    Fernando Borjon, commissioner of Mexico's Federal Institute of Telecommunication: Spectrum is one of most important assets that we have. The access to broadband and access to Internet is a constitutional right. This means we have to do everything that we need to do to guarantee access to the population as long as we do it on competitive basis. We are working on trying to switch off of analogue TV... There is lots of spectrum there that will give us the ability to repackage spectrum in the 600MHZ band.

    Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (USA): Going forward, we're certainly looking at policy reasons why the world of tomorrow must include broadband and broadcast. I believe whether it's Mexico or any other country, you have to make value judgements out front, but they have to come down on side of healthy broadcast band because it will serve function that others cannot do.

    Karim Sabbagh, president and CEO of global satellite provider SES: I think there's tremendous opportunity to collaborate with mobility... The biggest opportunity before us is how to serve the homes. We want to bring mobile, land-based and satellite infrastructure together so it's a hybrid infrastructure.

    Romano Righetti, group chief regulatory officer of telecom services provider VimpleCom: There are three magic words here: harmonsationa more harmonised spectrum at international level, to lower the cost for networked devices; predictability of the amount of spectrum available and at what price; and sustainability, the exponential growth of usage of unlicensed spectrum to avoid market distortion among different players.

    Moderator: With regard to low frequency spectrum, is there any win-win solution possible where there could be enough of that spectrum to go around?

    Smith: Broadcasters are already very big into sharing...Now we're proposing to share even more with broadband community. But there will come a limit where policy makers have to decide if they want to stay with broadband.

    Borjon: We believe repacking of spectrum is possible and that we can rearrange the spectrum... Multi-casting is a very good alternative. We have to remind ourselves that we used to be working with channels that were 6MHz. But we have to move forward at WRC... otherwise the opportunity [to regulate 5G standards] will be lost for four years.

    Moderator: Most countries are still auctioning big chunks of spectrum to one kind of operator. Do you think that's sustainable?

    Sabbagh: I'm not sure [auctions are] going to be very useful in the long term. I don't think economic value should be the sole point of how we award spectrum.

    Rancy: The role of government is to maximise social benefits. This can be done for auctions for certain types of situations, by beauty content for others. What is important is not whether or not you have an auction, but whether or not you have a licence.

    Righetti: The problem is that three elementsprice, technology and usageare not aligned. Each country has its own history in spectrum management and adjusting a situation [such as auctioning] that has been created in the past is something very, very, very difficult.

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