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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.

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.

TVWS Workshop:

Latest developments of global frameworks and its social impact

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Spectrum sharing for inclusive connectivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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