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Spectrum sharing for inclusive connectivity

In recent years we have witnessed our modern global digital ecosystem thrive. With the development of new technologies, infrastructure and new innovations, our daily lives and industries across the world have benefitted from the economic and social benefits that connectivity allows. In the next year it is expected that demand will create 25 billion connected devices by 2021, according to Gartner.

With this unprecedented demand, internet traffic is increasing, and yet, 4 billion people in the world are without access to broadband. To ensure everyone can access and benefit from the digital economy, spectrum must be shared efficiently to accelerate an inclusive digital economy which also supports innovation for next generation broadband.

High capacity and low latency connectivity are the new standards for connectivity. Many IoT devices and new applications such as Augmented and Virtual Reality require this performance. To fully meet these demands there is currently a shortage of license-exempt spectrum, however spectrum can be made abundant if used efficiently.

To enable more dynamic spectrum access, synergies across the industry are being formed to implement new dynamic spectrum sharing technologies and regulations which can provide further unlicensed access to spectrum. Dynamic spectrum sharing methods and technologies help to make more efficient use of spectrum by sharing its resources more widely. With more unlicensed spectrum available to be shared, more people, devices, industries and sectors can access greater connectivity throughput to enable the world’s full potential for economic growth and innovation.

The DSA’s mission is to advocate for effective spectrum sharing technologies which enables the co-ordination of dynamic spectrum access. So far, the innovation of regulatory frameworks adopted by regulators across the world have enabled spectrum bands to be shared with users whilst also protecting incumbent operations.

For example, TV whitespace (TVWS) frameworks have been crucial to connect the unconnected and also increase spectrum capacity for IoT and broadband use cases. Those who have adopted the framework have enabled cost effective broadband deployment and long-range coverage in rural areas. TVWS also provides good building penetration that is critically important for IoT and smart city applications.

To also support high quality connectivity to 5G services, access to mid-band spectrum is vital to ensure high-throughput and low latency connectivity is delivered. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the US ensures intensive use of the mid-band spectrum through shared access that protects incumbent services. Earlier this year, CBRS was commercially deployed in the US for the first time using an innovative light-weight database to facilitate dynamic sharing in a 3-tiered framework.

Currently there is also adoption of shared spectrum in the 6 GHz band to also deliver high capacity connectivity to meet the increasing demand for Wi-Fi services that require larger channel bandwidths. Management of the band with technological frameworks can protect incumbent services while allowing greater access to Wi-Fi. Furthermore, it is important for regulators to include in their broadband strategies a trade-off between licensed and unlicensed spectrum, both are important and required for a successful 5G transition. The Federal Communications Commission aims to make use of the entire 6 GHz band and proposes to use a framework to provide license-exempt access to 1200 MHz of Spectrum which will transform entire sectors and new 5G applications.

All of these success stories for spectrum sharing has involved effective collaboration between regulators, innovators and the wider industry to adopt flexible frameworks which make more efficient use of spectrum. The DSA is committed to continuing to advocate for this action to be made to enable more people to benefit from an inclusive and thriving digital economy.

To hear more about this topic in Spanish, listen to the full TeleSemana webinar with DSA President, Martha Suarez, which explores the full opportunities, challenges and potential of global spectrum sharing technologies: https://bit.ly/2RfV8s3