Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

DSA Thanks Maniewicz for Presentation

Following our 8th annual Global Summit last week, the DSA would like to thank Mr. Mario Maniewicz, Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for taking the stage and opening the event on Tuesday, November 3rd. Speaking to attendees at his session, he outlined the ITU’s response to the effects faced by the unconnected in a post COVID-19 world, addressing the different technologies and initiatives that are best suited for providing connectivity during these difficult times.

 

In his presentation, he advised spectrum authorities to incorporate the national regulatory framework standards approved by the ITU-R Study Groups and the changes made by WRC-19 into the national table of frequency allocation. Additionally, he encouraged them to contribute to the ongoing studies being conducted by the regional organizations of the ITU-R Study Groups in preparation for WRC-23 in order to build a long-term spectrum planning policy. He advised that the administrations should avoid defining a spectrum management policy short-term, as this may might be affected by the outcomes of the conference.

 

The latter statement could be understood as a message for those that assume that the upper part of the 6 GHz band (6425 – 7125 MHz) can be identified for IMT; there is no certainty surrounding this possibility, due to some services already operating in this band – this will only be decided during WRC-23.

 

Alternatively, his comment could be seen as a message for authorities in ITU Region 1 who are studying the upper part of the 6 GHz band (6425 – 7025 MHz) as an agenda item under consideration in the region, that includes Europe and Africa. While they could wait until WRC-23, regulators in Regions 2 and 3 have decided not to cover this agenda item, meaning that there are no ongoing studies in those regions which would restrict their progress in enabling unlicensed access. In fact, Regulators in Region 1, such as CEPT, are already in the process of opening the lower part of the bandas this portion is not under consideration for WRC-23; the 7025 to 7125 MHz frequency range is the only portion of the band that is under consideration globally, and it is up to regulators to decide if they reserve this 100 MHz segment until the end of WRC-23.

 

ITU-R is open to unlicensed access, enabling billions of people to use Wi-Fi networks and enjoy connectivity at home, at work and in public, and has been recognized by Radio Regulations in article 4.4. As Eric Fournier, Director for Spectrum Planning and International Affairs at ANFR France, said in response to a question following Mr. Maniewicz’s presentation “…what has been done in 6 GHz is fully in line with the Radio Regulations. We have already a mobile allocation in this band, so all administrations have the right to operate in this range…”

 

Mr. Maniewicz’s comment, which is a valid statement cautioning regulators not to make decisions on bands that are under study, was presented in a recent Policy Tracker article as a warning of the difficulties that unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band will harbor. From the DSA’s perspective and after confirmation with Mr. Maniewicz, this is not that case – the ITU Director’s comment is neutral and could be interpreted in a variety of different ways, none of which condemn the use of the 6 GHz band for unlicensed access. If you missed Mario’s session, we invite you to recap his full presentation here.

DSA Global Summit 2020

Explore the New-Found Potential of Spectrum Sharing at the DSA Virtual Global Summit 2020

Next week, we are excited to be hosting our 8th annual DSA Global Summit, from 3-5 November. Having made the decision to move the event online this year, we have adapted our agenda to cater to the ‘new normal’, bringing dynamic innovation, collaboration and debate from global regulators, policy makers, and industry leaders to you at home. Key highlights over the course of the Summit include discussions into regulation formation, challenges and strategy when deploying a range of spectrum sharing frameworks; from CBRS, license-exempt access to the 6 GHz band and TV Whitespace (TVWS), to the new possibilities of 3D spectrum sharing in the mmWaves. In doing so, we hope to inspire and cultivate solutions for both coverage and capacity as technology advances and the demand for connectivity rises. Especially in our current climate, urgent action to offer affordable connectivity to the 4 billion individuals without it is key. By creating a platform for synergy between industry and authority, we can drive a constructive movement for change worldwide.

On our opening day, we will focus on Wi-Fi 6 and the initiative to allow unlicensed applications such as Wi-Fi to utilize the 5925 – 7125 MHz band. Better Wi-Fi improves connectivity in the home, at work (or a combination of the two, as we are all now used to), in public facilities like hospitals or schools and in public spaces, driving productivity, economic growth and societal development. According to CISCO, Wi-Fi continues to carry more traffic than any other wireless system globally; about half of Internet traffic originates or terminates on Wi-Fi. But for Wi-Fi 6 to do its job, more spectrum is required to support wide channels from 80 to 160 MHz. Access to the entire 6 GHz band will be a step towards facilitating just this, making next generation Wi-Fi possible and meeting end-user demands.

We will also focus on rural connectivity and servicing those who remain unconnected or underserved. Short sessions covering The Importance of Connectivity will host a range of expert speakers; Claude Aiken of WISPA, Alessandra Lustrati, Head of Digital Development in the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Richard Thanki, Co-founder and Managing Director of Jangala, Don Means from the Libraries WhiteSpace Project, Heather Lanigan from USTDA and Jane Coffin from ISOC; who will discuss several practical use cases related to connectivity and dynamic spectrum access. Taking turns to present their case for improved spectrum sharing, our speakers will explore rural connectivity and broadband coverage plans in the USA, as well as international efforts for digital inclusion and specific projects to connect migrants, women and anchor institutions.

Among the pre-recorded sessions released on Day 1, our panel session on How to Connect the Unconnected: Enabling Future Proof Technology Solutions for Everyone and Everything, moderated by H. Nwana, the first DSA President, will evaluate the technological opportunity to reach rural users and meet capacity needs in more urban areas. Tune in on-demand to listen to Professor Umar Garba Danbatta of NCC Nigeria, Commissioner Adolfo Cuevas of IFT Mexico, Sidney Roberts, Director of Airband Engineering at Microsoft, Julie Zoller, Head of Regulatory Affairs for Project Kuiper at Amazon and Wesley Eddy of Loon address the issues faced by those without adequate Internet access, and how to overcome this – no matter how concentrated or far-reaching.

The second day of the Virtual Global Summit will see Alexander Kuhn of BNetzA Germany, Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management at NTIA USA, Andy Clegg, Spectrum Engineering Lead at Google, Jennifer McCarthy of Federated Wireless and Guillaume Lebrun of Facebook discuss Worldwide Initiatives to Deliver More Mid-Band Spectrum Through Sharing, with Michael Calabrese as moderator. There, they will discuss the importance of dynamic spectrum access for enabling more intensive and efficient spectrum use while protecting incumbent services. In this open and honest discussion, they will also speak on some challenges they are currently facing, and how they are looking to resolve these. Bringing together such a widespread panel of regulatory professionals to discuss such spectrum sharing innovation is something we hope will enrich the community to benefit the development of new policies.

Later that day, we will also showcase the uniqueness of mmWaves and their importance for connectivity. Speakers Alan Norman of Facebook, Jameson Dempsey of Loon and Mohammed A. Alabdulqader of CITC, Saudi Arabia will give their perspectives about technology trends and the most recent mmWave solutions, while also addressing the limitations and challenges of the band and its regulations in this candid discussion, moderated by Monica Paolini of SenzaFili.

To close our event, we will be contemplating the trending topics in the industry at the moment and how this may impact the future of our connected world, from spectrum policy to corporate social responsibility. Attendees of the DSA Global Summit 2020 will have the opportunity to network with delegates, regulators and authorities alike in an online space from home. With the chance to ask questions and present new perspectives in our open sessions and Q&A segments, we will ensure a collaborative platform from which to establish a unified plan for the future of technology and our industry.

Now, we are proud to invite you to join the global force of industry leaders this year for the opportunity to share your perspectives, ask your questions and gain exclusive industry insight into the development of connectivity. To attend from the comfort of your home, register here for free – we look forward to welcoming you!

CBRS: A Spectrum Sharing Success

In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the commercial deployment of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) – a major milestone for spectrum sharing in the USA. Furthermore, the FCC successfully completed Auction 105 for the CBRS Priority Access Licenses (PAL) in the 3550-3650 MHz band, which saw the largest number of spectrum licenses ever made available in a single FCC auction. In the months since, the CBRS ecosystem has rapidly expanded, with tens of thousands of indoor and outdoor deployments catering to a wide range of use cases. To us, this is proof of the opportunities enabled by spectrum sharing – market growth, increased stakeholder involvement in providing broadband connectivity, new opportunities for innovation, new use cases and an efficient use of the spectrum.

According to the FCC announcement, Auction 105 gross proceeds reached $4.6 billion, with net proceeds totalling $4.5 billion. A total of 228 bidders won 20,625 of 22,631 – or more than 91.1% – of available licenses. However, the opportunities made possible by CBRS commercialization go beyond the economy, facilitating the evolution of the ecosystem as the potential for new use cases expands and large-scale applications are realized.

For example, the American Dream Entertainment and Retail Complex in New Jersey has implemented CBRS to cover the entire 3 million square foot venue, servicing over 40 million annual visitors and more than 450 stores. Beyond the mall itself, CBRS has also been used for traffic and parking management, assessing approximately 33,000 parking spaces. Equipping security cameras, digital signage and other systems for both internal and external mall operations, CBRS has proved essential for supporting and enabling interesting new use cases such as this outside of public use Wi-Fi and cellular networks. It has been concluded that such IT infrastructures are faster and more economic than fixed infrastructures, offering reliable and simple, yet effective means of connectivity.

 

In Dallas, CBRS has transformed airport communication systems, moving airport staff and management connections onto the CBRS spectrum. Such deterministic spectrum access is critical in emergency scenarios to cater to higher power requirements and improve overall spectrum coverage. This network support is critical to airport communications and coexists with a robust Wi-Fi network, which is vital for providing passengers in transit with seamless connectivity when roaming.

 

On the west coast, the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, has adopted CBRS capabilities to support its internal communications within the stadium, lightening the load on the Wi-Fi system, similar to that of Dallas’ airports. Since the full commercial deployment of CBRS, they have also been working as a neutral host provider, offering Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) support in managing signal traffic for customers attending events. By not only supporting internal connectivity for both staff and customers but extending this service for the reinforcement of existing MNOs, CBRS has presented the opportunity to eliminate barriers and limitations, providing full, flexible coverage whenever it is needed – even when roaming.

 

A whole host of private network opportunities, from smart energy to smart city, are beginning to emerge. From business to leisure the development of smart offices, airports and stadiums have been initiated as Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) are able to harness this newly available spectrum. Even WISPs which typically operate in rural areas, who have been using this part of the spectrum for the past 12-15 years, are transitioning spectrum to new CBRS rules and LTE equipment to expand their reach and strengthen their services.

 

As we reflect on the use cases across the USA, it is clear that CBRS has revolutionized the ways in which spectrum is utilized to better connectivity across a diverse number of sectors. Hundreds of WISPs have moved their system from the old regime onto new CBRS systems so far, taking advantage of hybrid networks to offer better service to their users and using the spectrum to upgrade their networks and reach. The commercialization of CBRS has also provided private network deployers with a ‘one stop shop’ for spectrum access, equipment and management services, making the process more efficient than ever.

 

Now, with the PAL auction accomplished, we expect to see the CBRS ecosystem grow exponentially over the coming years to continually support innovation and better connectivity across the US. With all these achievements so early in its deployment and not a single report of harmful incumbent interference, CBRS has truly proved a spectrum sharing success – and we are excited to work with spectrum authorities to continue driving this journey.

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.

TVWS Unlocking New Possibilities

By Martha Suárez, DSA President and
Hender Jimenez, Technical Program Manager – Microsoft Airband Initiative

Introduction by Martha Suarez

During these uncertain times amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I have moved to a beautiful country town in the northeast of Colombia where my father has a small farm. It is a nice place to stay during the quarantine and we feel extremely lucky to be here. However, despite the lovely landscape, the fresh air and the calm, broadband Internet access is a huge issue. Fiber optic networks and microwave links are not an option here because the users in this region are farmers and countryside households that require an affordable price and not a business-oriented solution. For now, mobile coverage using 2G and 3G technologies is the only alternative; which, at best, is enough to receive WhatsApp messages and check some emails, but it cannot sustain video calls or common telework platforms like GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc., making working from home a big challenge.

This has been an interesting experience, and I have learned a lot about local companies who are trying to provide a better Internet service in rural regions like this one. Having spoken to multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs), I have discovered many small, but very active companies working to provide Internet to local households. However, when I asked these ISPs about the TV White Space (TVWS) technology, they had not heard about it – despite TVWS regulations being in place in Colombia since 2017. Currently, most of these ISPs connect urban users via a fiber node that spans throughout the town. Beyond that, they use unlicensed frequencies in the 5 GHz band to reach the surrounding farms and rural houses. Unfortunately, this band is limited to locations with line of sight (LOS), which does not allow the service to be offered to all potential users in the area. When I described the capabilities of the TVWS technology, it opened their eyes! Such technology would finally allow them to reach people that are currently unserved because the links they currently use in the 5 GHz band simply don´t reach those places.

In this blog, we would like to cover the situation that we – among millions – are facing, as well as some of the most frequently asked questions among regulators regarding the TVWS ecosystem; how vast is it? How popular is the technology? What developments are being made? The answers are straightforward; the ecosystem keeps growing at a fast pace, the technology is vibrant and keeps evolving, and its deployment is gaining traction at a rapid rate. Nevertheless, we still need to reinforce the relationships with wireless internet service providers (WISPs) and let them know about new TVWS opportunities. We should also continue engaging with spectrum authorities in countries that still don’t have TVWS rules in place so that they, too, can discover the technology and benefit from it.

A Technology in Continuous Evolution and an Ecosystem that Keeps Growing

It is hard to believe that just a couple of years ago the maximum throughput of a TVWS link was about 30 Mbps; now, some TVWS radios can reach up to 186 Mbps. This evolution is due to the dedication and effort that TVWS equipment manufacturers have put into this technology, driven by an ecosystem of customers and suppliers that keeps growing. Currently, there are at least ten TVWS equipment manufacturers who are fully committed to the technology; it is these equipment suppliers, along with the increasing number of countries adopting regulations for TVWS, that are causing the ecosystem grow at an accelerated pace.

The evolution of TVWS has been made possible due to the implementation of technological enhancements that were initially envisioned for other technologies like Wi-Fi and LTE. We would like to highlight three of them:

  • First, the creation of bigger bandwidth channels through channel bonding, which allows multiple contiguous TVWS channels to work as a single channel. Most manufactures allow four 6 MHz channels to be bonded for a total of 24 MHz bandwidth. Some manufacturers are also working on channel aggregation capabilities, which allow non-contiguous channels to operate as a single, larger bandwidth channel.
  • Another important enhancement of these radios is the ability to work on higher modulation and coding schemes, with some of the newer radios reaching up to 256 QAM.
  • Finally, the implementation of MIMO capabilities using multiple transmission and reception streams has been another key factor to increase capacity. Some of the existing radios allow 2×2 MIMO and future versions are expected to include 4×4 MIMO capabilities.

In the future, we expect other technological enhancements like beamforming and massive MIMO to be implemented on TVWS, which will result in even more robust radios with higher throughputs.

Welcoming a diverse market

Different providers harness different technologies to offer the best deployment opportunities to their customers. The collective effort in addressing demands for high-performance, low-cost TVWS technologies – especially in areas with non-line of sight (NLOS) – emphasizes the need for such solutions and reinforces their importance on an industrial scale. This is crucial to developing a strong TVWS ecosystem and tackling present industry challenges. Currently, the availability of different TVWS equipment is relatively low as manufacturers struggle to localize their offices to the regions which they service, even in countries that already have TVWS regulations in place. Thus, the awareness and desire generated by the existence and growth within the TVWS trade will enable regional end-users to benefit as WISPs compete to deploy the best and the most cost-effective solutions to their customers in the shortest period of time.

The DSA is thrilled to see the movement towards far-reaching deployment realized as more companies become recognized and dynamic spectrum access technology is driven into the mainstream. We congratulate members and non-members alike for contributing to this breakthrough journey and look forward to seeing spectrum made more accessible as regulations progress as a result of their help in facilitating its implementation and adoption.

Sharing Beyond Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum

A recap of Senza Fili’s Sparring Partners Webinar

Last week, we were pleased to participate in Senza Fili’s latest webinar, covering the importance of connectivity in our lives and how spectrum can be used to facilitate better connections between people and communities. Hosted by Monica Paolini, Editor of Senza Fili, and moderated by Kendra Chamberlain on the first all-female panel, we discussed the benefits of spectrum sharing and how far the technology has come since the DSA first formed. We also explored different options and frameworks for dynamic spectrum management, including TVWS, CBRS, 6 GHz and database assisted dynamic spectrum networks. The full webinar is now available to watch and listen to on-demand here.

Our History

Traditionally, there have been only two approaches to spectrum management; licensed usage, which requires every user to have a license for a particular frequency band or geographic area, and unlicensed usage, where an entire frequency band is reserved exclusively for unlicensed operations. For example, the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands where Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other unlicensed devices operate stand as an existing example of unlicensed usage. Today, there are several approaches to spectrum management that include sharing between different types of services, blurring the line between the two traditional methods.

While it is still desirable to have bands dedicated to unlicensed access and some applications and use cases require exclusive or priority access to spectrum, it is difficult to find sufficient spectrum to support this. This is due to the vast number of users currently operating across all frequencies and the complex and onerous process of clearing or relocating users. Spectrum sharing technology can be used to combat this challenge, enabling spectrum to be shared efficiently among users while simultaneously protecting incumbents.

New spectrum access options must be considered for Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) that are offering rural broadband connectivity. Such WISPs are dependent on having sufficient access to spectrum, as well as to well-developed equipment ecosystems.

New LTE and 5G networks can also benefit from the use of spectrum sharing technology, which helps to increase access to spectrum for existing Mobile Network Operators and support new business cases that have previously had limited spectrum access options. By building the right regulatory framework for spectrum sharing and creating good operating conditions for incumbents without interference, more users are able to benefit from spectrum access. Applicable to both residential and enterprise use cases, this allows different providers and companies to contribute to the network, connecting more people in different environments and facilitating the expansion of a richer spectrum ecosystem. Our society is now so dependent on wireless technology that we must act to adapt it to our ever-evolving lifestyles, and the DSA advocates for a range of different options in doing so.

Gauging Dynamic Use

Today, dynamic spectrum sharing offers far more efficient options for providing opportunities to access frequency bands. In the CBRS framework, the ‘dynamic’ aspect refers to the nature of the incumbent use, which changes depending on time and location, requiring new users to adapt to fluctuating conditions and to access the spectrum under an opportunistic scheme. Dynamic users are harder to protect than static users, requiring different techniques to effectively protect them while still allowing new users in the same band. One such technique involves the detection of incumbents through the use of sensors. Once incumbent use is detected, spectrum sharing systems can instruct new users to relocate to a different part of the band on a temporary basis to avoid interference with incumbents.

New entrants can also benefit from dynamic sharing of spectrum. At times and in locations where incumbents are not using spectrum, spectrum sharing systems can assign it to others. This is especially applicable in stadiums or sporting venues where flexible spectrum access options are needed to cater to the large volume of users in one space for a limited period of time. Thus, the dynamic aspect of spectrum sharing not only protects incumbents, but also allows new entrants access when and where they need it, making far more efficient use of spectrum and eliminating waste.

Considering all the Options

Unlicensed technologies, such as Wi-Fi and TV White Space, are mature and continue to support vast numbers of users on an affordable basis. However, there are other types of spectrum sharing that enable new opportunities. Regional context is important for judging which is most appropriate for a particular country or frequency band. For example, frequency bands which are heavily occupied in the United States, such as the television broadcast bands, might only host a few national broadcasters in other countries. While many bands are being used extensively in big cities, that same spectrum might be readily available in rural or isolated regions. So long as the incumbent users are protected, spectrum sharing technologies can open large amounts of spectrum to new users.

Regulatory frameworks that involve spectrum sharing must be flexible and adaptable for future changes of both incumbent and new users. We must consider the importance of making sufficient spectrum available for both unlicensed access and 5G services – spectrum sharing technology can be leveraged to achieve both of these goals. As the influx of data and cutting-edge devices is projected to boost traffic being carried by Wi-Fi from 50% to 70%, we risk facing a shortage or bottleneck of spectrum. At the same time, in order to achieve the low latency, high power capabilities that are being imagined for the 5G era, access to spectrum in the entire 6 GHz band will be urgently needed. Shared spectrum solutions are available today that can help meet these challenges.

The Vital Role of Connectivity During Crisis

Why spectrum access is important, now more than ever, to meet economic, social and educational needs to people worldwide

In uncertain times such as these where many people are taking steps to self-isolate to protect themselves and others around them, it is more important than ever to come together in support of one another. The DSA has long advocated for seamless, worldwide connectivity to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to access the digital economy and the vital resources that it offers and now, more than ever, this is our dedicated mission. Stable and wide-reaching connections are crucial, both socially and individually, to improve quality of life and bring communities together. In a time of crisis, this is no exception; in fact, it is emphasized.

Just a few decades ago, such a pandemic would have a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions. The ability to continue working or maintain access to vital services and amenities would be near non-existent. Despite the current COVID-19 crisis, we are lucky to have come so far in broadband capabilities so that we are able to upkeep any sense of normalcy and remain in touch with the outside world and one another – this cannot be taken for granted. Without the technological advancements we have seen in recent years, this pandemic would be an even greater struggle than we are facing currently.

In order to better-prepare and reduce the negative impact upon individuals and their communities world over, affordable network should be prioritized. In order to do so, the DSA encourages National Regulatory Authorities to support smaller providers that serve these communities with access to shared and unlicensed spectrum in offering free access to spectrum bands on a license-exempt or tiered basis. Taking this action will help to facilitate terrestrial and non-terrestrial emergency communications and affordable broadband access for those that are vulnerable and otherwise isolated. For more information, read our full official statement here.

Feeling the Disconnect

As self-isolation rules are put in place, there is a concern towards those with a lack of internet access. People are unable to keep up to date with vital news and medical bulletins that are transmitted sporadically during these times and also keep in contact with society, relatives and friends.

Lacking suitably reliable broadband also impacts employees and students, with many subjected to lay-offs due to their inability to continue working or learning from home. With those unable to continue their daily routines continuing to travel into populated spaces to earn an income and access other resources, the risk to physical and mental health is significant.

Physically Isolated, Digitally Social

To support the spike in data traffic on Wi-Fi networks as a result of self-isolation, spectrum must be made abundant. Stronger, more reliable networks have been proven crucial in maintaining a normal way of life, with the need for better connections being more urgent than ever. Remote alternatives have been saviors in both the social and corporate world, but to do so smoothly requires a stable foundation for connectivity. Internet access is no longer a luxury and should not be taken for granted as we utilize the latest technology to work and learn from home without interruption.

In remote regions, where connectivity is scarce and unused spectrum is often abundant, communities are coming to a halt and daily life is not possible to upkeep. Whilst a seeming inconvenience to those more fortunate, the context in which they are disconnected makes for a dangerous lifestyle. We are all suffering in these unprecedented times, but those who are isolated without any connectivity have it the worst. Not only cut off from family and friends, but having their health put at risk as they miss breaking news updates, changes in protocol and medical advice. Connectivity lies at the heart of public policy in many countries world over. To improve the strength of these connections, national authorities must act now to accelerate the ongoing progress towards network upgrades and enable more access to unlicensed spectrum. With a solid internet connection, people can remain connected for the wellbeing of one another and work together to ensure that vital services and information are delivered.

Stronger in Synergy

The DSA has always held core values of collaboration and the belief that movements are driven by synergy. This crisis has proved no exception, and we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate our members who are currently carrying out urgent initiatives to realize the potential of better connections during these times to aid those in need. For example, Loon is currently demonstrating how innovative solutions are providing connectivity to Kenya with balloons to strengthen national networks and future-proof their infrastructure.

Microsoft Airband partners are also taking steps to provide essential broadband services and support the rural communities they serve during this time. Committed to the FCC’s ‘Keep Americans Connected Pledge’, they are facilitating access to distance learning, telework and telemedicine by waiving any customer late fees, donating telecommunications equipment and opening Wi-Fi hotspots. Gigabit Library Network are also providing Wi-Fi hotspots outside libraries to provide access to public information to millions of families in the US.

The example made by the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that, in future, spectrum availability must be ensured and accessible worldwide. To deliver this, it is imperative that dynamic spectrum access technologies are readily deployed for the use of everyone, especially underserved people. These values epitomize the work of the DSA: to encourage the adoption of beneficial regulations which instigate the availability of more accessible and affordable internet.

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

Gender Equality:

A Key for Success in the Telecoms and Tech Industry

Following my appointment as DSA President last year, we have reached many milestones towards fair and dynamic spectrum usage. As I continue my role into 2020 working towards even fairer dynamic spectrum usage across the world, it is also key to acknowledge the state of the industry with regards to fairer gender equality.

Though my current role as President is proof that we have come far in the movement towards equality in the telecommunications field, there are still barriers in place. I am honoured to stand as the first female President of the DSA and I seek to encourage other women to join the technology industry, as I was encouraged by my own female mentors. However, it is worth noting that I am the first female President of the DSA; the fact we are still seeing ‘first time’ achievements for women shows that we have some way still to go before we are able to see women achieve on an equal scale.

Gender equality is an essential condition for an innovative, competitive and thriving economy, as stated in the EU Gender Equality Strategy, 2020 – 2025. 

The presence of women in telecommunications is crucial: not only for the industry, where gender diverse teams are seen to achieve better business results 73% of the time, but also within society. Studies show that connectivity via telecommunications technology increases the quality of living in lesser developed countries in Africa. The internet allows people from around the world to communicate by reaching social circles, business opportunities, medical assistance and financial and government services. This, in turn, allows communities to live in more secure environments economically, medically and socially.

With women being 31% less likely than men to have access to the internet in lesser developed countries, poverty can impact the lives of women by cutting off or reducing their communication. Multiple factors contribute to this phenomenon including cultural roles, safety and finance. Not only do women suffer at the lack of connectivity they are able to access, but their communities and families are impacted as a result. The impact of a connected society – and connected women – is undeniable.

More needs to be done for gender equality in many ways, from giving more women executive roles in companies to providing women in rural communities with access to the internet. For these reasons, I feel a responsibility to not only reach these disconnected areas but to also use my platform and voice to advocate for gender equality worldwide. I believe the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance can, and will, accelerate the movement towards a more connected globe. As we come to the end of 2019, I look forward to a future that I am wholly committed to; one of progression, gender equality and worldwide connectivity.