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:

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.

New Year’s Resolutions for Dynamic Spectrum Sharing

As we head into the next decade, we are looking ahead to building on the momentum of last year’s progress which saw many countries implement regulations to contribute to dynamic spectrum sharing worldwide. By taking similar steps and achievements this year and beyond, we will reach closer to our goal of accessible global connectivity for everyone. We will also aim to encourage wider adoption of new technologies to address the rising demand of the already connected.

I am sure you are already familiar with this number, about four billion people still have no Internet access, which prohibits their quality of life and prevents them from accessing vital resources. It might sound like something you heard before, but it is urgent to act! The only unacceptable choice is not to do anything. Unfortunately, one of the first barriers for connectivity is spectrum access and unfortunately too, in most of the areas with no access to Internet, most of the resource is not used.

New technologies based on dynamic spectrum access are an available tool to make efficient use of spectrum and provide Internet access and connectivity that is extremely relevant for health, agriculture, manufacturing and in general, for economic growth and a better quality of life. The DSA’s key objectives have always prioritised spectrum sharing solutions and technologies which make connectivity more globally accessible so that everyone in any corner on Earth can benefit from the digital economy. We continue to seek to remedy this in 2020 and will strive to meet the following objectives with the same commitment and dedication we have shown for many years.

Fostering Innovation

The Citizen’s Band Radio Service (CBRS) is the latest technology in dynamic spectrum sharing in the US and is essential for enabling the most efficient and intensive use of the mid-band spectrum that is critical for 5G. The use of CBRS increases spectrum efficiency and maximises spectrum access through its widened variety of users and use cases. A great chapter in the spectrum-sharing success story of CBRS will happen this year, and the DSA are ready to continue fostering innovation.

During 2019, the FCC considered a fresh and comprehensive look at the benefits of spectrum sharing for both the 5.9GHz band and the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi and unlicensed devices.  On the same direction, Europe considered the lower part of the 6 GHz band and held the technical compatibility studies that proved the sharing possibilities in the band while protecting the incumbents. These initiatives will help to enable wider unlicensed access to the spectrum for billions of devices. We are looking forward to continuing to actively support the FCC’s efforts in dynamic spectrum sharing as we make further steps towards our goals and we hope to see the final regulations adopted in USA, Europe and many more countries worldwide.

Connecting People  

With collaboration being key to progressing dynamic spectrum access, it is also vital to support the technologies which provide solutions for spectrum to be shared to provide widespread, inclusive and affordable internet connectivity. In the last year we have actively supported shared access in TV White Space (TVWS) spectrum and many on-going commercial projects in the countries that have adopted regulations for this technology. This year, we will actively continue to support TVWS to extend internet connectivity and we are sure that many more countries will adopt the regulations, enabling more rural areas to benefit from broadband connectivity, IoT possibilities and economies of scale.

As we look to the furture, the FCC recently announced it will hold a public auction for C-band spectrum, allowing for an open, fair, and transparent process to make spectrum available for licensed mobile applications. This is a positive policy development, and DSA will continue to advocate for the point-to-multipoint networks in this band, that can provide critical broadband to underserved rural locations.

Identifying goals

As an Alliance, we recognize the dedication our members have to progressing innovation, inclusion and opportunities in dynamic spectrum within the industry. We believe this recognition is crucial in marking the progress they have contributed so that effective solutions can be identified and provide guidelines for what we, as an industry, need more of in future. I would like to commend all DSA members’ active participation in innovating solutions which help us meet our goals. I am also thrilled to continue celebrating its innovative achievements with them in the upcoming year.

So far this year, I am delighted to grow our alliance within the industry as we welcome two new members, CUBIC and LOON. We hope we can continue to establish more partnerships and welcome new members to strengthen our alliance and the goals we are able to achieve together.

Adhering to our resolutions, I am looking forward to my debut in leading the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance as we hold the eighth annual DSA Global Summit in Paris, France, 2-4 June 2020. The event will reflect on the progression achieved by the telecommunications industry as well as addressing the issues that remain present, exploring the potential for future developments. Myself, and the DSA, are thrilled to enter 2020 with defined goals, strong plans and exciting announcements.

DSA President: My First Six Months

My first six months as DSA President have flown by in a whirlwind of activity! I am pleased to share with you what have we achieved as an alliance in this time.

  • 11 regulatory responses in 6 different countries (USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Ethiopia)
  • 12 countries travelled to (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and USA)
  • 1 DSA Global Summit in Washington D.C.
  • 6 international workshops about spectrum sharing organized by DSA
  • 5 international multi-stakeholder events attended (WRC-19, CPM-23, PCCII-CITEL, APM-ATU and ITU workshop for Community Networks)
  • Invited speaker at 9 international spectrum management events worldwide
  • 3 feature articles
  • 1 new whitepaper
  • 6 blogs, 2 quarterly newsletters and 208 new DSA Twitter followers

Throughout my first six months as DSA President I have continued to push to achieve the DSA’s goal of fair and dynamic spectrum usage worldwide. We have been working to extend the network of the DSA further and maintain our continued appearances at events and meetings around the world. Creating a bridge between the industry and regulators worldwide, myself and the DSA have spent time strengthening relationships with the regulators globally and are excited to see where these relationships take spectrum sharing technologies in the future.

DSA Global Summit 2019

A key moment for the DSA this year was the seventh annual DSA Global Summit that took place in Washington D.C in June; this was my first summit in my role as DSA President. As with our previous summits, the event brought together spectrum industry leaders and regulators from around the world. We were honoured to welcome distinguished speakers including Mario Maniewicz (ITU Radiocommunication Bureau Director), Michael O’Rielly (FCC Commissioner) and spectrum regulators from around the world. This was a great success for the DSA as it is our strong belief that worldwide collaboration is vital for the progress towards closing the digital divide.

Global Events and Meetings

Attending events and meetings around the world is a large part of this role. I am grateful for this opportunity to meet with a range of people in the spectrum industry and hear their insights into what more can be done to find affordable connectivity solutions.

At the start of May I attended the Wi-Fi NOW USA event and the FCBA Annual Seminar where we discussed the use of dynamic spectrum management to connect the unconnected. In June I joined the panel ‘Should MVNOs have access to 5G?’ at MVNOs Latin America to discuss the recent developments in 5G in relation to MVNOs and urge the importance of spectrum sharing. Following the DSA joining the inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) in August, I attended the 34 Meeting of the Permanent Consultative Committee II (PCCII) in Ottawa, Canada and the African Preparatory Meeting (APM) for the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) in East London, South Africa.

In September I joined industry experts at the 9th Annual International Spectrum Congress in Colombia, followed by the  6th Annual Latin Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Peru and finally the 8th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington D.C.

The past few months have been particularly busy with a TV White Space (TVWS) workshop in Argentina in July, another workshop in Ecuador in August, the ANDICOM 2019 event in Cartagena, Colombia in September, followed by the Microsoft Airband Summit in Washington D.C. I then travelled to Mexico City to deliver another TVWS technology workshop, with more workshops in South Africa and Kenya in October. Also, in October I was honoured to be a judge for the 2019 World Communication Awards, organised by Total Telecom.

November saw me attending the largest worldwide spectrum conference, the World Radiocommunication Conference WRC-19 in Egypt, where key parameters for future communications technologies were agreed. I was happy to represent the industry, raising awareness of the importance of Wi-Fi and unlicensed wireless devices for the 5G ecosystem and advocating the importance of a license exempt approach in the whole 6 GHz band.

DSA regulatory responses

Engaging with regulators and government officials will continue to be a vital aspect of the DSA’s work; our DSA Regulatory Affairs Working Group (RAWG) has already submitted numerous comments to develop the DSA’s positions on critical issues worldwide. Some recent submissions in the USA have concentrated on the partitioning disaggregation and leasing of spectrum, TVWS, Australia’s National Broadband Network rollouts and the C-Band. We have also recently submitted filings in Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Ethiopia promoting different spectrum sharing schemes and the important trade-off between licensed and unlicensed spectrum for both broadband coverage and capacity.

Following many years of advocacy by the DSA in these areas, we have been very pleased to see FCC Chairman Pai’s recent announcements regarding the developments in the C-band and the 5.9 GHz band. It is wonderful to see the changes that we encourage being implemented and I am very keen to see how these matters progress throughout 2020.

New Partnerships

The DSA has done extensive work to broaden our alliance and network with organizations and experts from across the globe. We recently held a TVWS workshop in Buenos Aires in August, co-organised by the DSA and the Secretary of Information and Communication Technologies (SeTIC). Following the workshop, the DSA and the Argentinian Government Secretariat of Modernization signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) promoting the study of dynamic spectrum access and the implementation of regulatory models enabling its application within Argentina.

I delivered a training course session for the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) in Washington D.C and have attended some dynamic spectrum sharing discussions organized by the Internet Society (ISOC), as well as some panels and forums in universities.

We have many more exciting things on the horizon for the next six months and beyond – stay tuned for further announcements about the DSA Global Summit 2020 in Paris! Since my appointment as DSA President the organization has been extensively involved in furthering the progression of the dynamic spectrum industry. I look forward to expanding our efforts in the future and working to connect those that remain unconnected around the world.

Championing Spectrum Sharing This September

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance has a far-reaching global presence, with members situated around the world. Therefore, as President, part of my role is to attend key spectrum events worldwide to support fundamental dynamic spectrum sharing solutions which will connect those in rural areas to the internet, along with supporting next-generation technologies.

At the start of September, I attended ANDICOM 2019 in Cartagena, Colombia for three days, which hosted 2,800 visitors from 25 countries. At the event, we enjoyed a high-level academic agenda that allowed participants to share knowledge on technological issues that define the spectrum sharing industry. It was a great opportunity to meet with companies and experts that are interested in dynamic spectrum access.

During the month, I was also pleased to attend the Microsoft Airband Summit in Redmond, Washington. I sat on a panel that focused on “Working with Governments and Regulators to Bridge the Digital Divide” and had a great discussion with Claude Aiken from WISPA, Dudu Mkhwanazi from Project Isizwe, along with Paula Boyd and Jeffrey Yan from Microsoft. On a broader note, it was great to see an overview of the Microsoft Airband Initiative which continually makes progress in eliminating the broadband gap in numerous countries, including India, Kenya, Ghana and the United States.

Later in the month I attended the 9th Annual International Congress to speak on Spectrum for Sustainable Development in Colombia, organized by the Colombian National Spectrum Agency (ANE). I joined Veena Rawat from GSMA, Carlos Rebellón from Intel, Celedonio von Wuthenau from Nokia and Juan Ignacio Crosta from BlueNote to discuss the dynamic use and sharing of spectrum in the growing 5G world. The congress was a success and a good opportunity to learn, strengthen relationships with regulators and industry experts as well as discuss with them the importance of spectrum sharing.

I then travelled to Lima, Peru to attend the 6th Annual Latin Americas Spectrum Management Conference. This event highlighted the importance of connecting people in the most remote and underserved areas and how the entire population can take advantage of new technologies to close the digital divide. At the event we were also presented with the opportunity to meet with regulators to advance the development of dynamic spectrum sharing technology in the Latin American region.

Whilst in Lima I attended a ChicasTIC meeting, which strives to empower Latin American women who work in technology. ChicasTIC is a network of women in LatAm promoting female leadership in the ICT sector and I was glad to see that many women who attended the conference joined our group.

After the conference I continued in Lima, participating in a workshop on Community Networks. On the panel I was joined by Fernando Carrillo from Echostar, Nadia Villegas from the MTC and Peter Bloom from Rhizomatica in an informative discussion moderated by ITU’s Director of Radiocommunication Bureau, Mario Maniewicz. The session focused on alternative methods for the use of radio spectrum in underserved areas.

The 24th September marked the opening of the 8th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington D.C. The two-day conference began with a welcome from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, where he reiterated the FCC’s intent to make the 6 GHz spectrum band available to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed uses.

In September I was also invited to deliver a training course session for the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI), an innovative program exploring emerging technologies and spectrum management. Whilst in Washington, I was invited to a reception ceremony to honour the 10,000th USTTI Graduate! The graduate was Irene Ogake from Kenya and it was a pleasure to congratulate her. I am convinced that the USTTI is doing a great job.

For my final meeting of September, I travelled to Mexico City where the DSA co-organized a workshop to discuss Mexico’s adoption of TV White Space (TVWS) technology. In addition to the workshop, the DSA attended important meetings with various Mexican authorities including the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT), the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) and the delegates from the Presidency of the Republic leading the discussion on connectivity issues.

My involvement in these important spectrum sharing events across North and South America has been a great opportunity to connect with Spectrum Authorities, DSA members and other key industry experts to work towards closing the digital divide for the remaining 4 billion people. I would like to thank all of the DSA members that joined us in our meetings this September, and to the great team of experts that support the DSA’s ambition of global connectivity.

DSA joins CITEL and attends ATU meeting

By Martha Suarez, President of the DSA

DSA President Martha Suarez and Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (Minister of Communications in South Africa and Member of African National Congress (ANC)) at the final ATU Preparatory Meeting for the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019.

As the DSA looks to further promote the integral role that spectrum sharing technology plays in connecting those in underserved or unconnected areas to the internet, I am thrilled to announce that the DSA is strengthening its presence in the regional spectrum groups and has joined the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) and attended the final African Preparatory Meeting (APM) for World Radiocommunication Conference WRC-19 of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

CITEL is an entity of the Organization of American States and serves as the Organization’s leading advisory body in all telecommunications matters in the Hemisphere. CITEL’s primary focus is to facilitate and promote the integral and sustainable development of innovative and reliable telecommunications in the Americas. The DSA’s key messages align with those of CITEL’s and we are looking forward to working closely together as the industry looks to utilise spectrum sharing to enable next-generation technologies.

DSA has joined the Permanent Consultative Committee II (PCCII) that promotes debate and regional cooperation on issues related to the planning, coordination, harmonization, and efficient use of the radio spectrum.

Last month, I attended the 34 Meeting of PCCII from 12th-16th August in Ottawa, Canada. CITEL meetings host delegates from all administrations of the OAS and the delegates are spectrum experts so I had the opportunity to meet with many delegations and share with them the importance of spectrum sharing.

Moreover, last week, I also attended the final APM for WRC-19 in East London, South Africa. It was great to meet many regulators from Africa for the first-time to discuss their vision for the future of spectrum.

In CITEL and ATU, I had the opportunity to present to the delegates the DSA vision for different technologies. One of them is the next generation of Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi 6 – that can make use of wide channels to provide wireless gigabit broadband inside homes and buildings. Wi-Fi 6 also promises to provide immersive experiences delivered through peripherals and will allow gigabit class networks to be deployed in rural and suburban environments. Regulators could avoid a Wi-Fi spectrum crunch by facilitating license-exempt access to the 6 GHz band (5925 –7125 MHz), helping to realize the full potential of Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi is used so broadly today and in many places such as Latin America and Africa it is the only option for many people to access Internet. DSA advocates to maintain the technology neutrality of the 6 GHz band because the existing co-primary mobile allocation allows users to employ technologies that best meet their requirements, whether they are IEEE-based, 3GPP-based, or something entirely new.

The DSA exists to expand dynamic and opportunistic access to unused radio spectrum and it is our constant communication with regulators and government stakeholders that allow us to take positive steps towards this. With the support of CITEL and ATU and through attending regional meetings and working closely with the spectrum experts, we are looking forward to ensuring more and more people access the benefits that come from connectivity through spectrum harmonization.

WRC Conference in Egypt

Later this year, the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Held every three to four years, it is the job of the WRC to review or revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary satellite orbits. This year, there are a wide range of topics that comprise the agenda and the DSA is looking forward to promoting the importance of maintaining technological neutrality in the 6 GHz band for the future.

To stay up to date with the DSA’s activities worldwide, make sure you are following us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Post 2019 Global Summit Blog

Summit Draws Worldwide Spectrum Experts

Two weeks ago, the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance convened its seventh annual Global Summit in Washington, DC with tech and telecom industry leaders and regulators from around the world. I was honored to preside over my first Summit as President of DSA and I am humbled and excited by the progress our members and policymakers are making worldwide to connect the next four billion people and build a next-generation network ecosystem.

Through panels and fireside chats, presenters covered cutting-edge airwaves issues from UHF bands to mmWaves and discussed about technologies like TV White Spaces, IoT, 5G and Wi-Fi 6. We hosted a TVWS workshop and a regulators-only workshop that drew policymakers committed to sharing their experiences and learning from the other participants about spectrum sharing and dynamic access to spectrum to make the most efficient use of their country’s airwaves. The final day of the event brought together speakers from the private sector, non-profit organizations and public sector to continue these conversations.

We couldn’t say it better than our panelists and speakers themselves, so please enjoy some of their remarks below and we look forward to seeing you next year!


On Unlicensed Spectrum

  • “We need more unlicensed spectrum and I’m working hard to make that happen.” – FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly
  • “72% of the traffic on your phone is going to be managed by unlicensed communications. So we really have to pay attention to unlicensed.” – Mary Brown, Director, Government Affairs, Cisco Systems
  • “Unlicensed spectrum is really the “water” for connectivity in a lot of upcoming markets.” – Dan Rabinovitsj, Vice President, Facebook


On 6 GHz

  • “We can push the envelope. I think there’s much more opportunity for unlicensed use in 6 GHz…and the concerns raised can be mitigated. My goal is to get to a conclusion as soon as possible.” – FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly
  • “Wi-Fi 6 is a ‘Ferrari’ running in this old spectrum. What we really want to do is get it out on the freeway of 6 GHz.” – Mary Brown, Director, Government Affairs, Cisco Systems
  • “Good technical conversations between proponents and incumbents are the right approach.” – Michael Ha, Chief, Policy and Rules Division, Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC
  • “This isn’t something that’s going to take a generation to build up; this is something we can put into productive use right away. We’re hopeful that you could have Wi-Fi 6 in 6 GHz in Europe before Christmas 2020… [And] we’re very, very hopeful that the FCC could also reach a point where we could see Wi-Fi 6 in 6 GHz deployed in 2020.” – Chris Szymanski, Director, Product Marketing & Government Affairs, Broadcom
  • “What you’re going to see is a whole ecosystem of devices that are built around high throughput, low latency, and we think that that’s going to happen with 6 GHz… You’re going to have an even higher level of reliability that people will depend on to provide various real-time services” – Chris Szymanski, Director, Product Marketing & Government Affairs, Broadcom



  • “CBRS success is the result of unprecedented collaboration between all of these government entities, industries and standards bodies.” – Dave Wright, Director, Regulatory Affairs & Network Standards, Ruckus Networks


On C-Band

  • “To say that this is the most complex spectrum topic we’ve ever seen is an understatement.” – Jaime Fink, VP of Technology, Fixed Wireless at Airspan Networks CTO & Co-Founder, Mimosa Networks
  • On splitting the band (rather than clearing it): “It’s a win-win-win.” – Jaime Fink, VP of Technology, Fixed Wireless at Airspan Networks CTO & Co-Founder, Mimosa Networks
  • “This 500 MHz is grossly underutilized. There are 1,500 earth stations; this may sound like a lot, but this means that more than 90% of the spectrum capacity in the band is fallow.” – Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Project, New America
  • “These are four foreign-owned satellite companies that want to make money on spectrum that they never paid for. There should be a public auction.” – Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Project, New America


On the Digital Divide

  • “It’s our job to make spectrum abundant for broadband. We need to connect the next four billion people, stimulate wireless innovation for next-generation broadband, and accelerate an inclusive digital economy.” – That was me!
  • “Connectivity allows women to have access to financial services, healthcare, education, jobs. It’s such a powerful tool and we have to focus on how to improve it. Every woman should have that opportunity.” – Heather Lanigan, Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, USTDA
  • “Access that is not affordable, inclusive and safe is not access at all.” – Clara Barnett, Governance & Digital Inclusion Adviser, Emerging Policy, Innovation & Capability (EPIC), UK Department for International Development (DFID)