Connecting the Unconnected

Bridging the digital equity gap has been a focus for Microsoft since July 2017, when it launched its Airband Initiative. The initiative aims to democratize access to technology, enabling more people to reach their full potential and furthering Microsoft’s mission to empower communities to achieve more. In this session dedicated to connecting the unconnected at the DSA Global Summit, we welcomed Fatema Kothari, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft’s Airband Initiative.

Outlining the purpose and approach of the program, Kothari told the session that while internet access is as ubiquitous as electricity and running water for many, millions across the world still lack access to this critical service and the opportunities connectivity brings. Half of the people in the world lack access to internet connectivity, she said, with the implication of that lack of access bought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.

In the US, FCC coverage data suggests that 14.5 million people lack access to broadband with more than 11 million of those residing in rural areas and evidence suggests that the figures would be higher. Additionally, it is historically marginalized communities, says Kothari, including racial ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and people experiencing income insecurity, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and lack of in-home broadband.

As part of its aims to accelerate efforts globally through the provision of access to affordable internet, affordable devices and digital skills, Microsoft’s Airband program has set key targets:

  • Providing broadband access to 3 million people in the rural US by July 2022
  • Providing broadband access to 40 million unserved people globally by July 2022
  • Launching pilot projects in 8 major US cities by June 2021 to drive the adoption of affordable broadband, devices, and digital skills for communities of color and key institutions that support them.

Microsoft’s aim is not to become a network provider, Kothari said, but to work alongside people with the same goal of connecting people in order to bring opportunities. The Airband model is partnership driven, she said, offering a holistic approach to the challenges of the digital divide. Its efforts fall into four categories:

  • Connect – partnering with network operators to accelerate broadband access among unserved and underserved communities.
  • Transform – partnering with organizations including the public sector and NGOs to layer digitally transformative solutions on top of broadband networks to improve productivity, livelihood, and drive sustainable development.
  • Scale – partnering with government and intergovernmental organizations to gain financing to scale partnerships and projects.
  • Policy & Advocacy – underpinning any work with policy and advocacy efforts focused on immediate and longer term needs to address the digital divide.

Outlining Airband’s response to COVID-19, Kothari said the crisis significantly impacted those without reliable access to high-speed internet, making it clear that broadband access is a prerequisite for full participation in modern life.

Efforts during the pandemic focused on augmenting existing programming and policy efforts to keep people connected and leaning into opportunities to provide connectivity in areas lacking internet access, she said. Its two-pronged approach mobilized partners to maintain connectivity to customers financially impacted by the crisis and supported the deployment of hundreds of free public Wi-Fi hotspots. It also encouraged regulators to provide funding and policy recommendations to federal, state and local government to release funding and remove roadblocks hampering infrastructure efforts.

Kothari outlined four areas where broadband connectivity would bring clear benefits:

  • Healthcare – telehealth services such as remote monitoring and videoconferencing to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
  • Agriculture – boosting farmers’ incomes by improving productivity, finding new customers and reducing costs.
  • Education – schools can expand learning options, offer virtual courses and enable remote collaboration.
  • Small businesses – enabling them to work remotely and reach more people.

She also provided two examples of Airband’s work to help those adversely affected by the pandemic.


In May, Microsoft announced a collaboration with the government in Nigeria – where internet penetration is around 50% – to build strong foundations for the digital economy across three pillars of connectivity, skilling and digital transformation. To achieve this, the Airband team is working with local partners to improve broadband connectivity in six regions and help with design and implementation of hyper scale cloud services.

Land O’Lakes agricultural cooperative

 Airband is working with the Land O’Lakes cooperative to connect its facilities with Airband ISP partners to increase broadband speeds and provide broadband to surrounding communities. Two pilot projects in partnership with Airband ISP Watch Communications and cooperative members are using fixed wireless broadband technology to provide speeds up to 100Mbps as well as working to incorporate the Internet of Things for uses like propane tank monitoring and precision agriculture.

Kothari’s session closed with a focus on the key question of what comprises ‘digital equity’.

For Microsoft, digital equity requires access to affordable, robust broadband or high-speed internet, broadband-enabled devices that meet the needs of their users, and digital skills – a necessity for wholesome civic and cultural participation, employment, and access to essential services. She outlined Microsoft’s ‘Principles of Digital Equity’, which form the basis for a holistic approach that it believes will help bridge the current digital inequity gap.

To hear the session in full, click here

To view more of the Global Summit 2021 sessions, you may find the on-demand sessions on the DSA YouTube channel.

Community networks are key to provide connectivity

Following the DSA’s annual Global Summit event back in June, we’d like to return to some of the important discussions and messages raised by our speakers to continue the conversation and progress for spectrum sharing.

For our ninth annual DSA Global Summit, we were pleased to welcome Jane Coffin from the Internet Society and Lilian Chamorro, from Colombia-based non-profit Colnodo, to discuss community networks. In this session, both discuss the benefits community networks bring, as well as challenges in setting them up. Coffin, who is responsible for the Internet Society’s Internet Growth project teams, which focus on Community Networks, Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) & interconnection, peering, and community development, tells the session that community networks have been the “unsung heroes of the pandemic”. They have helped communities stay safe, spreading information and helping encourage innovation by exploring the availability of unlicensed spectrum and partnership working with organizations, including the Internet Society and many others.

When it comes to setting up such networks, collaboration is key, Coffin says, with recent advances made in the 6 GHz band in areas where partners in the community network have worked with their own governments and other organizations. Efforts to free up more spectrum for services have moved quicker during the pandemic, she tells the session, with bureaucratic processes becoming more agile. Cooperation is vital to this, she adds, whether through spectrum, more agile licensing, or looking to change universal distribution.

Lilian Chamorro, from the non-profit organization Colnodo, which aims to facilitate and improve communications and the exchange of information between organizations and communities in Colombia through low-cost electronic networks, shares efforts to set up a community network in the mountainous area of Buenos Aires, Cauca, in Colombia. Lack of coverage by cellular networks and poor internet access had been highlighted by local communities, she says.

In 2017, Colnodo started work with the country’s ICT Ministry to find the best way to access spectrum. Even though there was an experimental licenses framework established in the country, it was not suitable, because it was for short-term tests. In addition, the fees to access spectrum were very high and those experimental licenses were geared to the testing of new technology, Chamorro tells the session. As an alternative, an agreement was made with the ICT Ministry to establish a community network through a pilot project. The process proved to be lengthy, she says. The agreement was finally signed at the beginning of 2019 and network testing started in September 2019 but required the installation of various infrastructure, including electrical infrastructure as well as base stations. It was put into operation in February 2020 just before the pandemic and attracted nearly 100 users, providing much-needed connectivity at a time where movement was limited both into and within the territory due to the pandemic. The specific situation at the time made it hard to sign people up to the network and provide the necessary training, but in future it would be easier to raise awareness of the network and gain more subscribers, she says.

However, the network had to be shut down in October last year when the agreement with the Ministry came to an end. Colnodo is now working on proposals to use a longer experimental license that would allow the network to be continued, as well as looking at regulation change that would make it easier to use experimental licenses for the establishment of such community networks, Chamorro tells the session. While the initial network was based around 2G, they are now also looking at LTE.

In Chamorro’s view, it is important that the difference between community networks and other commercial operators is highlighted for future projects. She tells the session that regulation should be flexible in order to recognize that conditions and context, from financial models to organization make-up, differ from region to region and country to country. It is important to understand the community that the network will serve, then create it accordingly, she says, taking those differences into account.

Such flexibility perfectly tied in with the aim of the DSA Global Summit to help find the right frameworks that recognize communities’ needs as well as the different limitations and legal requirements regulators in different countries are operating under.

To hear the session in full, click here

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 DSA awards!

To round off our ninth successful DSA Global Summit, we were thrilled to present our DSA Global Summit awards to several well-deserving recipients. It is vital we continue to not only push for further global spectrum utilization, but to recognize those making strides in this area, setting an example for countries and organizations worldwide.

Award for Innovation in Dynamic Spectrum Access Policies

This award recognizes one policymaker or regulator who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in adopting and implementing policies making more spectrum available on an opportunistic basis. Following their decision to open the complete 5925-7124 MHz band (6 GHz band) for unlicensed access by restricted radiation devices earlier this year, and also for their efforts on modernizing their spectrum management framework and considering useful technologies for broadband access like TVWS, the DSA was glad to present this award to the National Telecommunications Agency of Brazil (ANATEL)!

According to a study requested by the DSA, optimzing the use of the 6 GHz band in Brazil will see huge economic benefits, up to the value of $163.5 billion in the next 10 years. The award was accepted by Taís Maldonado Niffinegger, Head of International Affairs of ANATEL on behalf of Chairman Leonardo Euler de Morais, who we welcomed on the first day of our Global Summit to give a Keynote address, in which he spoke about Improving Connectivity with better Spectrum Management. To view his presentation, see here.

Award for Increasing Digital Inclusion

The Award for Increasing Digital Inclusion recognizes an organization or individual who has successfully developed and/or deployed a spectrum-based technology and/or business model that has the potential to reduce the cost of internet access and get more people online. This year, Dr. Luis Fernando Castellanos, General Director of Programs and Projects at the Vice ministry of Communications was invited to accept this award on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC), Peru!

Last month, the DSA celebrated MTC’s decision to to enable unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band, bringing benefits for Peruvians and the economy. According to a recent DSA study, unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band will add the economic value of US$ 15.83 billion in GDP contribution, US$ 3.6 billion in producer surplus to Peruvian enterprises, and US$ 3.40 billion in consumer surplus to the Peruvian population over the next 10 years. Thanks to the extensive internet usage in almost every aspect of our lives today such as remote education, work and commerce, this decision supports the modern digital ecosystem, and helps bridge the digital divide that is still evident across the globe.

Award for Wi-Fi Innovation

Our third and final award recognizes an organization or individual who has made significant contributions developing and/or deploying dynamic spectrum access technologies in support of Wi-Fi.

This year, the Award for Wi-Fi Innovation was presented to Mr. Mohammed Alabdulqader, receiving on behalf of the Communications, and Information Technology Commission (CITC). Since 2020, Saudi Arabia has successfully deployed more than 60,000 Wi-Fi access points to help provide Wi-Fi services in public areas such as schools and hospitals. Back in April, the DSA expressed its unanimous and enthusiastic support for CITC’s decision to open up the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed access in Saudi Arabia. Not only is Saudi Arabia the first country in ITU region 1 to do so, but the first in the entirety of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The decision supports the development and use of innovative technologies such as Wi-Fi 6E, and is a key part of the Saudi Arabia National Spectrum Strategy 2025 and the Spectrum Outlook for Commercial and Innovative Use 2021-2023.

The winners of this year’s DSA Global Summit awards offer a fine example of the spectrum sharing successes of 2021. Throughout arguably one of the world’s most challenging years in recent history, the DSA is pleased to still see such excellent progress in the area of spectrum sharing.

2021 DSA Global Summit Speakers

ASSIA’s John Cioffi and Telecom Advisory Services’ Dr. Raul Katz to speak at DSA Global Summit

As the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance is preparing for our ninth annual Global Summit, we look forward to welcoming many established speakers from across the telecoms ecosystem. By highlighting spectrum sharing successes from the last year, the world’s eyes will be drawn to those leading in the area of spectrum sharing regulation, bridging the digital divide and providing connectivity to unserved and underserved communities.

John M Cioffi – CEO and Chairman of the Board – Adaptive Spectrum and Signal Alignment, Incorporated (ASSIA)

We are excited to welcome John M Cioffi, CEO and Chairman of the Board at Adaptive Spectrum and Signal Alignment, Incorporated (ASSIA) to the global summit this year. Cioffi will be representing ASSIA during session 1 on 8th June, to speak on a new Wi-Fi spectrum report. This session will focus on real world data which confirms such a need still exists and is growing for both enterprises and consumers.

Cioffi’s specific expertise is in the area of high-performance digital transmission, and he has won several awards for his contributions to the industry and has contributed to over 800 papers and over 150 heavily licensed patents.

Dr. Raul Katz – President – Telecom Advisory Services

In session 5 of the summit on 10 June will focus on the economic benefit of flexible spectrum framework. DSA President, Martha Suarez, will be joined by Dr. Raul Katz, President of Telecom Advisory Services. Dr. Katz has worked extensively on global projects, working alongside government and international organizations, focusing on management processes and best practices of telecommunications enterprises. He has also worked alongside governments and international organizations in the development of regulatory frameworks and policies, National Broadband Plans and National Technology Strategies, including supporting governments in Colombia and Brazil. Following previous roles of CEO of Adventis, and Lead Partner at Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Katz is now the President of Telecom Advisory Services, advising clients in the interrelated fields of strategy and regulation.

At the 2020 DSA Global Summit, which was the first ever DSA Summit to be held virtually, the DSA released a brand new study in partnership with Telecom Advisory Services, assessing the economic value of unlicensed used of the 6 GHz band in Brazil. This followed similar studies assessing the economic impacts for Mexico, Colombia, and Peru. Following this study in Brazil, the DSA was thrilled to congratulate the board of commissioners of ANATEL on their decision to open the complete 6 GHz band for unlicensed access by restricted radiation devices. This year, following an overview of the topic by Suarez, Katz will cover his findings on the economic value of Wi-Fi worldwide and more specifically of unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band for economies.


Discover spectrum sharing successes at DSA’s 2021 Global Summit

When it comes to connectivity, the last year has undoubtedly been one of the most significant to date. Throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, an Internet connection has served as a lifeline to those working, learning, and living completely or partially in isolation. This year, the DSA’s Global Summit will be shining a light on spectrum sharing successes across the globe, which have helped to bring connectivity to all, and bridge the digital divide.

Similarly to the most recent global summit in November last year, the 2021 summit will be held virtually. On 8-10 June, regulators, policymakers, industry stakeholders, academia and civil organizations from around the world will come together in order to deliberate spectrum sharing methods and models that will empower next-generation technologies.

Spectrum sharing successes

The central topic of this year’s Global Summit will be spectrum sharing successes from the last few months. With many countries, most recently Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Peru and Costa Rica opening up the 6 GHz band for unlicensed access, the World’s eyes are on those governing bodies who are progressing with spectrum sharing regulations. As countries such as Canada, Mexico and Colombia are expected to make regulatory decisions on 6 GHz this year, it is important to highlight the countries that are leading by example.

“Already in 2021, nations like Brazil and Saudi Arabia have made the decision to enable innovation and new use cases by opening up the 6 GHz band. By shining a light on these spectrum sharing success stories, we hope that more governments will recognize the value of effective spectrum sharing, and we will see this momentum continued,” said Martha Suárez, President of the DSA.

On top of this, Europe and the USA are on the verge of major mid-band decisions, enabling more flexible spectrum frameworks for 4G and 5G usages and a wider mobile ecosystem.

Additionally, we have seen great advancements for TVWS, with more commercial deployments in different countries that already have regulations in place and new regulatory decisions in Honduras and Peru. The DSA Global Summit will provide ample opportunities for meaningful discussions surrounding the ongoing successes of spectrum sharing and will be a platform to form long-term collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

An influential line-up

Throughout the three-day virtual event, there will be a number of presentations from influential speakers from across the industry. Representatives such as Mario Maniewicz from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as well as Leonardo Euler from the National Telecommunications Agency in Brazil (ANATEL) will be attending to speak about spectrum sharing. With additional representatives from, OnGo Alliance, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and more, key topics will include the transformation potential and the economic benefit of spectrum sharing frameworks.

“I am thrilled to be able to welcome so many esteemed speakers to the ninth Global Summit,” said Suárez. “We are lucky to be able to come together from around the World, to continue to discuss spectrum sharing at our annual event, even though we can’t be physically together. That is the power of connectivity!”

The DSA Global Summit is a comprehensive, flagship event for discussions around spectrum sharing and worldwide connectivity. By analyzing current use-cases of spectrum sharing, as well as what the future looks like for connectivity worldwide, the DSA aims to promote the opening up of spectrum bands for unlicensed and hybrid access.

“Effective sharing of spectrum is the only way to meet modern connectivity demands and bridge the digital divide. Regulatory bodies should consider the discussions being had at the DSA Global Summit and look to countries who are exhibiting the successes of spectrum sharing, for inspiration,” said Suárez.

For more information, visit the Global Summit section of the website.

Saudi Arabia fosters innovation through spectrum allocation

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in Saudi Arabia, has made the decision to open up the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed access. The DSA would like to express its unanimous and enthusiastic support for this decision, which will enable innovation and digital empowerment throughout the Kingdom!

Not only is Saudi Arabia the first country in ITU region 1 to enable license-exempt access to the entire 6 GHz band, but it is the first in the entire EMEA region. Saudi Arabia is leading the way for governing bodies worldwide and setting a powerful precedent for the future of spectrum sharing, globally. The decision to open up the band will support emerging technologies such as Wi-Fi 6E, bolstering the Kingdom in its evolution to a digital society.

A move in the right direction

CITC’s Governor Mohammed Al-Tamimi, said: “CITC is adopting a progressive spectrum policy to meet spectrum demand of this wireless proliferation and enable technologies of the future like 5G, broadband satellite and new generation of Wi-Fi to have fair access to spectrum.”

The DSA believes that this decision shows the CITC is moving in the right direction in its mission to protect consumers, promote investment and safeguard competition to ensure reliable communications services and innovative digital technologies. CITC has a holistic vision that outlines the potential of radio spectrum to transform Saudi Arabia into a digital society by enabling different industries.

The DSA welcomes their vision regarding unlicensed access and light licensing approaches. We agree that this last regime should increasingly make use of databases as these provide more flexibility, deliver greater control of the band and provide important insight into usage.

Spectrum use in Saudi Arabia

During the public consultation, the CITC expressed clear reasoning for their decision to open up the band. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of WLAN use, and substantial Wi-Fi carried traffic was exemplified in the Kingdom, and the emergence of a promising device ecosystem was brought to light.

There is also a substantial amount of licensed TDD mid band spectrum already being made available for IMT and 5G. With the release of the 3800 – 4000 MHz band, a total of 890 MHz will be available in large contiguous channels for exclusive IMT use, which the CITC believes is sufficient to cover the mid-band spectrum needs of IMT for the foreseeable future.

The existing mid-bands for exclusive IMT use have robust ecosystems already as well as superior propagation characteristics. If mobile operators want to access the 6 GHz band, they can do so on a license-exempt basis using NR-U (which 3GPP has defined as band n96).

Looking forwards

Over the next 5 years, the CITC plans to adopt a light licensing regime using a database solution in all or parts of the 4000 – 4200 MHz band, in a manner that does not impact existing or new satellite users. The CITC recognizes the demand for spectrum by verticals and the possibility of sharing the band with satellite subjects for the protection of continued FSS use in this band.

The decision to open up the 6 GHz band for unlicensed access confirms CITC’s long-term vision, laying the groundwork for early adoption of Wi-Fi 7 in the Kingdom. The DSA supports this decision and hopes that other countries will follow in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, on the path to providing connectivity for all.

The DSA congratulates Brazil

Yesterday, the 25th of February, the board of commissioners of ANATEL has decided to open the complete 5925-7124 MHz band (6 GHz band) for unlicensed access by restricted radiation devices. This decision places Brazil in a leadership position worldwide, as a hub for development of new technologies, enabling innovation, new use cases and considerable benefits for Brazilians and the national economy. DSA celebrates this decision and is convinced that unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band will benefit Brazilian businesses and consumers by providing sufficient Wi-Fi capacity for data intensive video applications, 4G and 5G (data) offloading, and for allowing users to take full advantage of the new applications enabled by the large channel sizes available with the new Wi-Fi-6E generation of equipment.

Image by David Peterson from Pixabay

By 2030, Brazil will see huge economic benefits, through optimising the use of the 6 GHz band. According to the study requested by the DSA, the economic value of enabling unlicensed access to the 5925-7125 MHz band in Brazil will increase to $163.5 billion. Furthermore, Latin American countries in general could also see those benefits, according to the latest studies they could be $150.27 billion in Mexico and $40.42 in Colombia. These last two countries, as well as Honduras, Costa Rica, Canada, Peru and Argentina already had public consultations about the future of the 6 GHz band and regulatory decisions are expected this year.

Regarding the available equipment ecosystem, it is worth mentioning that last year the FCC certified the first Wi-Fi 6E chipset and its first 6 GHz Wi-Fi device. FCC has currently certified multiple Access Points that operate in the 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band. In early January of 2021, the Wi-Fi Alliance began certifying Wi-Fi 6E devices, paving the way for new gadgets that can transmit across the entire 6 GHz band. Currently there are 14 Wi-Fi 6E certified devices and many Wi-Fi 6E products have being announced at this year’s (virtual) Consumer Electronics Show from marks like Linksys, Nighthawk®, Netgear and TP-LINK . On January 14th, Samsung announced a new mobile phone that incorporated a Wi-Fi 6E client. In light of this momentum, the research firm IDC has forecast that more than 316 million Wi-Fi 6E devices will enter the market in 2021 and shipments will rise rapidly over the next three years. Following Brazil’s decision DSA companies and Wi-Fi 6E manufacturers are ready to deliver chipsets and start producing and introducing equipment in the Brazilian market.

By optimising the use of 6 GHz and allowing unlicensed spectrum access, it can be freed for use by other devices without interference, ensuring that incumbent services are protected and given room to thrive and grow within the band. This results in more opportunity for connectivity through unlicensed operations across the 6 GHz band, promotes the development of cutting-edge technology and contributes an estimated global economic impact of around US$4.9 trillion by 2025. According to our economic study, in 2021 Brazil’s number of lines in excess of 150Mbps is 1.05% but it is predicted that by 2030 it will be up to 44%. Colombia and Mexico are following the same prospects, with Colombia at 3.29% and Mexico at 3.35% in 2021, this is set to rise to 25.72% and 25.39% by 2030.

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) highlights the Brazilian decision and calls for more unlicensed spectrum to be dedicated to Wi-Fi networks and wireless devices, in order to use the 6 GHz band to it’s full potential. This will improve the experience for residential and corporate use, but also enable better opportunities for rural and underserved areas to become connected. Spectrum sharing in the 6 GHz band allows for crucial contributions to be made to the development of next generation dynamic spectrum management in the form of network innovation. The DSA strongly encourages the adoption of regulations to support its deployment and is dedicated to driving the movement so that reliable connectivity can be achieved world over.

2021: A year of hope for connectivity

Whilst 2020 has been a year of uncertainty, I have never been more certain of the industry’s commitment to accelerating access to connectivity worldwide. Last year highlighted the critical need for a connection during a crisis. We have relied on it to continue education, work, healthcare as well as entertainment and social activities with friends and families. We have grown to depend on this fundamental connection line and as more technologies, use cases and applications come onto the market the demand is growing exponentially and only innovation and engagement with regulators will make this possible.

Thankfully, a connection has been our own lifeline as I have attended many virtual events with multi-stakeholder organizations and regulatory bodies worldwide. It also enabled the DSA to host its eighth annual Global Summit online which saw a record number of over 500 registrants from government, academic institutions as well as non-profit and profit companies across many regions worldwide; Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and the Middle East. Our ability to adapt and our willingness to further dynamic spectrum sharing has contributed to a year of acceleration of spectrum sharing initiatives worldwide.

Some highlights include:

  • This year 4 countries adopted unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band (USA, UK, Republic of Korea and Chile)
  • 40 regulatory responses to many countries worldwide on different spectrum sharing opportunities (UK, US, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Costa Rica, Honduras, Slovenia, and more!)
  • Over 30 virtual events attended where the DSA presented
  • Numerous international multi-stakeholder events attended (Different ITU, CITEL, ATU and CEPT meetings).
  • 3 new studies and whitepapers published on the potential and economic value of 6 GHz
  • 2 webinars hosted by the DSA with our members Loon and Microsoft, about Dynamic Spectrum in Aerospace Networks and the latest advances on TVWS respectively.
  • 1 Global Summit hosted virtually with a record-breaking number of attendees!
  • 9 industry feature articles and 12 DSA blogs published

In 2020, the DSA submitted a record number of regulatory filings worldwide and it will continue to maintain this commitment as we enter a New Year of continued uncertainty together. We have never been more driven towards our mission and it has never been more relevant than now to take action as a collective industry.

The focus for some of 2021 will still be on virtual events from our living rooms, continued engagement and collaboration with multi-stakeholder organizations and regulatory bodies as well as new achievements and successes to celebrate as spectrum sharing progress is made worldwide.

The DSA will continue to promote unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band to meet an unprecedented demand for Wi-Fi. More than half of internet connections start or end with a Wi-Fi connection, according to Cisco, making this an integral demand to address. We are already seeing a great momentum in consultation. In early 2021, the DSA will start submitting comments to consultations about the future of the 6 GHz band. Just in January we have deadlines for comments in Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and Jordan!

We will also certainly continue positioning the DSA as the only global organization focused on promoting spectrum sharing innovation to get the most out of our wireless resources. We will advocate for dynamic spectrum access and spectrum sharing opportunities in different frequency bands (UHF, mid-band, 6 GHz, mmWaves), with different technologies and spectrum sharing frameworks (TVWS, CBRS, TSSM, Stratospheric platforms, etc.). The Alliance will also keep promoting a balanced regulatory approach between licensed, unlicensed, and lightly licensed, to enable making unused spectrum available for broadband.

We believe there is every opportunity to continue the momentum that we have witnessed in 2020 and every hope for individuals who could benefit from the possibilities of a connection line.

DSA Global Summit 2020

A record-breaking recap


Last month, we hosted our eighth annual DSA Global Summit, which saw a record attendance of over 500 registrants. Being the first virtual Global Summit in history, we were delighted to welcome over 160 representatives from government and academic institutions. Representing various regions worldwide, it was great to come together to drive spectrum sharing forward alongside many non-profit and profit organisations. Thank you to everyone who attended to share their insights and progress the future of dynamic spectrum sharing.

There, we discussed a wide range of spectrum innovations, from TV White Space (TVWS), Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) and Wi-Fi 6 to 3D spectrum management in mmWaves. Especially productive was the focus on unlicensed access to the 6 GHz and the importance of this for the benefit of worldwide economy, society and next-generation Wi-Fi deployment to meet growing capacity demands.

With different regions across the world facing different spectrum sharing challenges and approaching various opportunities, it was great to see so many attendees from all over. Individuals from Europe, Africa, South America and North America joined us virtually to listen to the variety of topics and speakers on the agenda. We were also honoured by having some attendees from Asia and the Middle East which made this year’s Global Summit a truly global event at a time when staying connected is so important for everyone across the world.

The DSA Awards were announced at the event, recognizing the efforts of individuals who are committed to furthering innovation, accelerating digital inclusion and exploring new opportunities for dynamic spectrum access. Congratulations to all our winners!

  • Mercy Wanjau, Ag. Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya (Innovation in Dynamic Spectrum Access Policies)
  • Vladimir Handal, Secretario de Innovacion, Gobierno De El Salvador (Increasing Digital Innovation)
  • Paul Garnett, Founder and CEO, The Vernonburg Group (Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • Padre Eduardo González Gil, O. P., Vicerrector Académico General; Mrs. Olga Macias Muñoz, Decano de Ingeniería de Telecomunicaciones; Mrs. Lucía Ostos, Directora and Tatiana Zona, researcher; Universidad Santo Tomas (Research on New Opportunities for Dynamic Spectrum Access)

We also released three new studies at the Summit! Firstly, we worked with Telecom Advisory Services LLC to assess the economic value of unlicensed used of the 6 GHz band in Brazil, and then Access Partnership to explore the role of Wi-Fi in Brazil as the key technology in meeting the increase in online activity due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Finally, we and Policy Impact Partners outlined how to achieve the full potential of 6 GHz spectrum in ITU Region 1: Europe, the Middle East and Africa. All of these studies are now available in full on our website.

The three-day Summit was a true success, and we are proud of the platform we have established for collaboration, especially amid a time when an event such as this seemed unlikely. I would like to thank all speakers, moderators and attendees for supporting our Global Summit, as well as France spectrum authorities for their offer to host our event this year. While we regret not being able to hold the in-person conference, we appreciate the support and look forward to making plans for next year! If you missed it, all Global Summit live and pre-recorded sessions are now available on-demand via our YouTube channel.

Dynamic Spectrum in Aerospace Networks

In September, we hosted our second DSA Webinar, this time on Dynamic Spectrum in Aerospace Networks. Sponsored by Loon, we were honoured to welcome their representatives, Jameson Dempsey and Wesley Eddy, to share their expert insight into the importance of spectrum sharing for the success and expansion of their initiative. Missed the webinar? Don’t worry – watch the recording on demand via Dynamic Spectrum Alliance’s YouTube channel.

Loon’s mission is to help operators extend the reach of their networks by integrating stratospheric balloons with fundamental cell tower technology, including an access and backhaul antenna, and flying them over the desired region – no matter how remote or rural. Flying 20 km in the air, mesh networks of Loon balloons leverage Machine Learning (ML) technology to ride the wind currents at different layers in the stratosphere, with each balloon staying aloft for approximately 5-6 months. When it is time for the balloons to come down, Loon collaborates with local civil aviation authorities to safely land and recover its equipment. Having flown for over 1 million hours and navigated 40 million km since 2013, this has become a robust system which has been tried, tested and improved over years of active production deployments. Although Loon specializes in advancing Stratospheric Internet Platforms, the technology underlying Loon’s network can support other types of networks, including LEO satellite constellations, terrestrial mesh networks and other advanced networks, to facilitate the extension of traditional internet and telecommunications applications.

When developing its system, Loon had to solve unique engineering challenges not faced by traditional ground-based networks. For example, traditional software-defined networking (SDN), designed for static nodes and devices, presents challenges for larger, highly dynamic aerospace networks with many moving nodes. When applied in the aerospace context, traditional SDN and ad-hoc networking systems can make poor decisions or even fail completely. Moreover, traditional SDN was not designed for radio frequency links and may create interference to incumbent networks.

To address these challenges, Loon has developed Temporospatial Software Defined Networking (Loon SDN), an architecture that leverages and analyses environmental data, radio propagation information, and regulatory requirements to continually predict the location of nodes in aerospace networks. This enables efficient radio resource management, the ability to route through dynamic mesh networks, and interference avoidance with other networks (e.g., satellites, fixed point-to-point links). Loon SDN allows operators to track the arrangement of physical platforms within the network; their orientation, predicted paths and radio configuration details; and how these meet user traffic demands. And Loon SDN is not just for Loon: the company has also partnered with Telesat to adapt Loon SDN for Telesat’s LEO satellite constellation.

As outlined in the Webinar, Loon’s TS-SDN technology can enable emerging connectivity solutions, such as stratospheric Internet platforms and non-geostationary satellite constellations, to coexist with each other and with incumbent networks in spectrum bands where those networks are deployed, such as the E-band and similar millimeter wave bands (Loon SDN is spectrum band and service type agnostic). In doing so, Loon SDN can help regulators address critical issues such as the digital divide by incorporating a variety of new and emerging aerospace connectivity solutions, without risking interference to incumbent systems.

In order to ensure that technologies such as Loon can flourish, it is important for regulators to adopt flexible and transparent licensing frameworks – such as database-supported and self-coordinated light-licensing – that can support the rapid deployment and coexistence of traditional ground-based and emerging aerospace networks. The DSA advocates for the harmonization of spectrum to facilitate Loon’s mission and hopes to see more applications served successfully by dynamic spectrum sharing as we work towards a better-connected future.