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TVWS Workshop:

Latest developments of global frameworks and its social impact

To watch the full webinar on demand, visit our YouTube channel.

Following the Summer break, the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance is excited to continue our efforts in serving the underserved and bettering the lives of millions. Working with authorities and policy makers worldwide to drive the movement towards more accessible, affordable and efficient broadband access, we have already celebrating many major milestones this year – despite unprecedented global events. In preparation for out virtual Global Summit this November, we intend to maintain this momentum throughout these coming months and prepare for the further realization of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing potential as the new year looms.

In July, we were thrilled to host our virtual TVWS Workshop covering the global impact of TV White Space (TVWS) frameworks on society and the wider technological ecosystem – sponsored by Microsoft. Reflecting on the recent regulatory changes and deployments within the TVWS Ecosystem, our two panels of expert shared their valuable insight into the benefits of a diverse and vast ecosystem, the importance of serving the underserved, and the future potential of TVWS.

Opening the webinar, Vickie Robinson, Senior Director of the Airband Initiative at Microsoft USA outlined Microsoft’s mission, pledging its dedication to extending broadband access to the 40 million unconnected people worldwide – three million of whom reside in the United States – by July 2022. Emphasising its global scope, the Airband Initiative has roots which extend far beyond the USA and rely on a public-private effort for diminishing the digital divide, particularly in rural areas. The Airband Initiative works in close partnership with several organizations, including local wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as well as federal, state and local entities focused on closing the rural digital divide.

 

To follow, our regulatory panel saw established policy makers from around the world discuss the developments of TVWS guidelines in their respective nations, and the benefits of TVWS deployment that they have witnessed first-hand. Speakers included Mr.Moisés Queiroz Moreira, Commissioner at ANATEL, Brazil; Mr. Peter Ngige, Assistant Director at the Communications Authority of Kenya; Mr. Austin Nwaulune, Director, Spectrum Administration at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr. Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner at the FCC, USA. Together, they explored the impact of the current pandemic on TVWS frameworks, with Mr. Ngige describing temporary measures that have been put in place by authorities in Kenya as a solution to the surge in broadband demand with the rise of telework. Elsewhere, such as in Nigeria, the decision to deploy TVWS commercially is under consultation, and is part of an ambitious and recently released plan to increase broadband access in the country. Regardless of region, however, it was made clear that TVWS is a complimentary service, that provides or will provide last mile connectivity. Working hand in hand with other technologies and fixed wireless services, TVWS can be backboned by existing fibre, microwave links and satellites to, in turn, reinforce the network and lay stable foundations for emerging spectrum technologies.

 

Our second panel saw the audience participate in a Q&A segment following an exploration of TVWS network deployments from Sylvia Jaramillo, General Manager at Anditel, Bryan Kariuki, Chief Commercial Officer at Mawingu Networks, Jalel Sager, CEO of New Sun Road and Greg Jarman, Chief Development Officer at Watch Communications. Moderated by Lydia Payne Carroon, Business Operations Manager at Microsoft, concerns about the stability of rural connectivity were raised, with the discussion turning to common roadblocks in the journey to increasing connectivity and the creative solutions required to overcome them. Serving customers across ten countries and reaching nine million people, the Microsoft Airband Initiative has done just this, noticing trends in data which indicate particular demographics falling victim to digital isolation. Such trends prove that increasing Internet access to groups and regions must be done at a demographic level. Otherwise, the risk of imbalance among communities is significantly increased. It is not enough to provide the infrastructure, but intervention must occur to teach, train and encourage all members of the community to make use of it. Ultimately, skewed infrastructural distribution, cost of access and content available on the Internet have proved to be obstacles in the widespread use of spectrum sharing technologies. By eradicating this gap in the market, Internet access can be increased worldwide and the discrepancies observed in the analogue world will be prevented from being replicated in the digital world as we drive people from offline to online, closing the digital divide significantly.

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