Tiered spectrum access for better connectivity

Urban and rural areas are constantly looking to harness the potential of connectivity. The world needs to maximise the use of radio spectrum to meet soaring connectivity demands, and to connect the remaining portion of the world’s population without internet access. Tiered spectrum access is one way that spectrum can be utilised to benefit those in dense urban areas, as well as rural regions which will benefit from closing the digital divide.

Making the best use of spectrum

Spectrum allocated to the mobile service and identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (i.e. available for cellular networks with 3GPP standardization and mobile devices available), is frequently underutilized in rural and sparsely populated areas. In this context, innovative and flexible spectrum management frameworks are required to incentivize affordable mobile broadband connectivity in those areas, enabling opportunities for local network operators, internet service providers, and non-profit entities that have a local presence, and in many cases are already providing solutions but only with license-exempt spectrum access. There is also an opportunity for businesses to harness the potential of deploying their own mobile networks to enhance their operations.

An effective spectrum sharing model would allow national regulatory authorities (NRAs) to simultaneously accommodate both incumbent users, and new entrants in the same frequency band, sometimes enabling those incumbent users to share licensed spectrum with third parties. By delivering more inclusive and affordable connectivity, this model could enable many more people to participate in the digital society.

New technologies for spectrum sharing

After the last World Radiocommunications Conference in 2019 (WRC-19), 17.25 GHz of spectrum has been identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT). Out of this number, 14.75 GHz of spectrum has been harmonized worldwide, reaching 85% of global harmonization. Although this large majority of spectrum frequencies suitable for commercial wireless communications have already been identified, in many countries there is a limited amount of assigned spectrum and in some cases. Furthermore, each time there are fewer opportunities to clear frequency bands of incumbent users to make space for new exclusive licensed users.

Thankfully, new technologies like cognitive radios and automated frequency coordination systems are helping to address this challenge. They are making spectrum sharing increasingly feasible, so that incumbent users can remain using their assigned frequency bands, but regulators can also enable some of this spectrum to be utilised for wireless connectivity.

To this end, tiered spectrum access in bands identified for IMT could help support the need for extended mobile connectivity. The application of spectrum sharing to IMT bands would need to protect incumbent users that are not mobile IMT users, such as fixed satellite services, fixed services or military users. It would also need to be clearly defined before any new spectrum assignment process, so the rules are clear, and the “use it or share it” approach needs to be implemented to make the most efficient use of the spectrum.

Developing a spectrum sharing framework

A tiered and dynamic spectrum sharing framework which coordinates frequency usage by mapping the geolocations of the transceivers while protecting incumbents could shed light on spectrum usage for more efficient access through sharing.

NRAs can take steps to make more spectrum available on a shared or lightly-licensed basis by implementing automated dynamic shared access technology, which is readily available from multiple commercial providers and can greatly facilitate access by a wide variety of users. There is no question that today we have the technical ability to automate frequency coordination, which leads to lower transaction costs, more efficient use of spectrum, faster time-to-market for new services, protection of incumbents from interference with greater certainty, and expansion of the supply of wireless connectivity.

Established spectrum sharing frameworks from regulators around the world demonstrate the readiness of the technology and the availability of innovative applications that can make tiered sharing a powerful tool. With these, NRAs can deliver inclusive connectivity, bridge the digital divide, and improve service availability in their markets. Increasing spectrum access by a wide range of new users, including vertical sectors, will result in increased and faster deployment of new networks and services. The introduction of new licensing options supported by automated dynamic spectrum sharing technology is the best path to support such deployments.

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance continues advocating for tiered and dynamic spectrum access models, which protect incumbent users while using the finite spectrum resources in the most efficient way possible for digital inclusion.

Digital inclusion is a key enabler of economic and social development

Digitally under-served populations risk being left behind, said Alessandra Lustrati, Head of Digital Development in the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). During the ninth annual DSA Global Summit, DSA President Martha Suárez and Alessandra Lustrati discussed FCDO’s digital development policy framework, the UK Digital Access Programme, and the collaboration between FCDO and DSA.

 

Outlining FCDO’s reason for supporting digital development, Lustrati cited evidence that digital technology is a key enabler of inclusive economic growth and social development – becoming even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic as digital technology underpins response and mitigation measures. Despite the vital importance of getting people digitally connected and able to access information and services, a huge digital divide still exists, and not only in the developing world. In fact, almost half of the world population is still offline, which means large underserved and unserved regions and populations are in danger of being left behind. Better connectivity and digital inclusion will not only amplify the outreach and impact of specific interventions but will also lead to better value for money and more efficient use of public resources to achieve sustainable development.

 

How FCDO promotes digital development

 

FCDO’s work to ensure no-one is left behind in a digital world is articulated into three main policy objectives, Lustrati said: –

  • Digital inclusion – catalyzing affordable and sustainable connectivity, developing digital literacy and skills, and supporting locally relevant digital content and services for underserved communities – focusing on disadvantaged groups including remote rural populations, women and girls, and people living with disabilities.
  • Digital transformation – working with partner countries to facilitate the broader adoption of digital technologies in the economy, society, and government.
  • Responsible digital – promoting a safe and secure digital environment with a focus on open and transparent digital governance.

 

For FCDO, inclusive connectivity is a foundational element of digital development, said Lustrati. Bridging the digital divide requires a holistic approach on two levels:

  • Systemic – working with partner countries to improve policy and regulatory frameworks, engaging in dialogue, and supporting telecom regulators and spectrum agencies to promote a more conducive environment for digital inclusion.
  • Market/community – supporting the testing and demonstration of scalable technology and business models for inclusive, affordable, accessible connectivity – including enabling smaller scale innovators and community-led initiatives to help reach under-served and excluded segments.

 

 

An example of FCDO digital development programming

 

Rather than investing directly in infrastructure or technology, FCDO helps create a better environment for digital development through better policies and regulatory frameworks, and viable models for local connectivity, digital skills, digital content and services . Supporting the foundational elements of digital access and inclusion also helps to ensure applications of technology to different sectors and verticals work well. The UK ‘Digital Access Programme’ is an FCDO-led cross-government partnership with the Digital, Culture, Media & Sports Department (DCMS) that supports digital inclusion, cyber-security capacity building and digital entrepreneurship, operating in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia. The project demonstrates the holistic and cross-cutting approach of FCDO to digital development. Since 2019, the Programme has been building relationships with and built the capacity of key institutions and organizations that are crucial for country-wide digital transformation processes, such as telecom regulators, ICT ministries and ICT authorities.

 

Suarez agreed that the three policy and programming pillars outlined by FCDO (digital inclusion, transformation, responsibility) are vital, and underlined the focus on the purpose of connectivity and how spectrum-sharing or dynamic spectrum access can promote inclusion. The DSA advocates for laws, regulations, and economic best practices that will lead to more efficient utilization of spectrum, fostering innovation and affordable connectivity for all. From DSA’s perspective, access to spectrum should not be a barrier to connectivity, which is why it aims to make spectrum abundant through dynamic access that makes the best use of available spectrum. By doing this, it aims to connect the 4 billion underserved people across the globe, stimulating wireless innovation and accelerating an inclusive digital economy.

 

Suarez cited examples such as Wi-Fi, with the existence of so many hybrid models for connectivity making it important for regulators to consider spectrum requirements. To this end, DSA works with spectrum authorities and regulators to understand models and frameworks that would enable the right kind of access.

 

Meaningful collaboration for a fairer digital future

 

Suarez and Lustrati agreed that synergy is important, and that stakeholders need to leverage each other’s expertise and experience to ensure development resources are used effectively and duplication of efforts are avoided. FCDO takes a multi-stakeholder approach, said Lustrati, engaging with a wide range of relevant organizations, including DSA.

 

Outlining lessons learnt and insights, Lustrati pointed out that FCDO is technology- and model- agnostic and needs to seek effective solutions while remaining open to different ways of doing things, provided they enhance digital inclusion in a responsible and sustainable manner. That also means not having a specific blueprint and recognizing that different approaches – whether spectrum sharing or community networks – work differently in different countries. It is not just about technology and corresponding regulation, she told the session, but also about digital awareness, skills, and the capacity of institutions and organizations involved.

 

DSA and FCDO are looking forward to further collaboration, working towards digital inclusion in underserved areas of the world. Focusing on Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, the collaboration aims to catalyze affordable internet connectivity using a new spectrum mind-set. Find out more about the DSA/FCDO project, here: https://bit.ly/3rBUFTB

Looking back at 2021, and my two years as DSA President

Since joining the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance over 2 years ago, I have witnessed the spectrum sharing landscape change in revolutionary ways. This year has been particularly progressive, with crucial spectrum being made available for unlicensed access, more flexible spectrum frameworks being adopted by regulators worldwide, and leaps being made towards bridging the digital divide.

Of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continued to create unprecedented challenges for people everywhere. Never has internet access been so important for the continuation of normal life, whether that means working from home, staying informed with critical news updates, or communicating with our family and friends. This tumultuous time has shown why the efforts of alliances like the DSA continue to be so important for our modern, digital society.

Coming together to deliberate spectrum sharing  

This year, the DSA held its second virtual global summit, welcoming speakers from authorities in Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico and more. Sessions explored topics from regulatory updates to the economic benefits of flexible spectrum sharing networks, all available on demand.

The 2021 Summit saw some of the highest participant and broadest attendee demographics of any DSA Summit, with 571 attendees from across the globe. A breakdown of the attendees showed that about 26% of them are from North America, 27% from Central, South America and the Caribbean, 14% from Europe, 22% from Africa, 6% from Asia Pacific and 5% from Middle East. 42% of the participants were Government delegates, 47% industry attendees and 11% represented academia, civil society, not for profit and press. International Telecommunications Union and regional spectrum groups kindly accepted our invitation and shared their vision on the challenges on spectrum management and the importance of enabling new technologies. It is the sharing of visions and best practices from spectrum experts that hold the key to the summit’s success.

Worldwide success for 6 GHz

As unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band continues to be a core focus for the DSA, it is important to reflect on the successes of efforts in this area so far. With countries across the Americas, Europe, and Asia now allowing access to the 6 GHz band – opportunities are increasing to attend the growing traffic demand, enable new innovative technologies such Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, holographic or haptic systems, and to provide the accessible and affordable conditions for broadband access and digital inclusion worldwide.

Over the course of 2021, the DSA filed more than 70 submissions to regulators and authorities, in its efforts to influence and encourage efficient use of spectrum. As well as encouraging resourceful use of the 6 GHz band, these filings cover areas like the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, mid band spectrum in different segments from 3.1 to 4.2 GHz, TV White Spaces and spectrum management plans and strategies of global regulators and authorities.

Last year, 4 countries adopted unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band – USA, UK, Republic of Korea, and Chile. This year, we have congratulated countries like Brazil and Saudi Arabia for similar efforts opening the entire band, and we are excited to see a momentum with final decisions about the band in more than 40 countries.

Empowering spectrum sharing efforts

The most effective way to advocate for efficient use of spectrum, is to show the innumerable possibilities that can be made a reality. Through studies with partners like ASSIA, Policy Impact Partners, and Telecom Advisory Services, the DSA has produced several reports over the last 2 years which illustrate the economic and social impacts of spectrum sharing. This year alone, the DSA produced nine reports and studies with partners.

Global economies such as Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia, Kenya and Nigeria have been shown to benefit from billions of dollars in multiple studies with Telecom Advisory services. By allowing unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band, the reports assessed the impact on service quality, coverage, affordability and the impact on different applications and use cases.

Whitepapers produced in partnership with Policy Impact Partners show how connectivity can be enhanced through spectrum sharing, and how the full potential of 6 GHz can be realized. At such a pivotal time for the future of Wi-Fi, these reports highlight the urgent need to open the 6 GHz band on a licence-exempt basis.

One of the most recent studies, produced in partnership with Apple, Broadcom, CISCO, Facebook, Google, HPE, Intel, Microsoft and Qualcomm, states that opening the full 6 GHz band to license-exempt Radio Local Area Network (RLAN) technologies is the best public policy choice for regulators globally. As more countries open the 6 GHz band for unlicenced access, we must continue to urge governments to support innovative use cases with the full 1200 MHz.

A look at what’s to come

Over the next 2 years, I hope to congratulate more and more governments on opening the full 6 GHz band for unlicensed access and enabling mid-band spectrum sharing innovative frameworks inspired by tiered spectrum sharing models like CBRS. I hope to see them adopting technologies like TVWS for affordable rural connectivity and on adopting modern spectrum management tools like automated frequency coordination. All of these specific decisions will have a huge impact on the ICT ecosystem, allowing different stakeholders to deploy gigabit class networks, edging closer to the ultimate goal of connecting the remaining 40% of our population.

Collaborations are key, and in that sense, DSA will also continue its engagement on working closely at the international level with different regional groups like the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) in the Americas, the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) in Africa, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and others. Furthermore, we hope to continue the fruitful partnership with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office under the Digital Access Programme that is taking very important steps towards digital inclusion in Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. We are encouraging a new spectrum mindset in these regions, to catalyse affordable internet connectivity and support the inclusive growth of the digital ecosystem.

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.

Nigeria

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.