Skip to content

Spectrum

Spectrum

Spectrum is considered the lifeblood of the global communications network. Today, the spectrum pool remains controlled by government oversight, rather than market demand. This inhibits the most economically efficient use of spectrum, as government regulators cannot accurately predict which specific services will be in the greatest demand going forward.

A market framework where spectrum is allocated to those services most in demand leads to the highest level of innovation as more players will be motivated by being first to market or coming up with novel uses of spectrum. This calls for administrations to both permit and promote the growth of competitive market forces in the management of spectrum.

Under such a framework, regulators would instead play a role in determining how best to apportion spectrum among mutually exclusive services and among licensed and unlicensed services; maintaining services for the public welfare; ensuring a level playing field among competitors; protecting networks from interference; and protecting the public's health from any potentially harmful effects of radio transmission.

The release of spectrum pools must be driven by such factors as types of specific services offered, technologies used, consumer pricing and network performance. And voracious growth in mobile-data demand necessitates the need for the release of new spectrum pools.

This demand has been on a steady path of acceleration over the past few years. Charting the growth of mobile data traffic, starting with 3G and into 4G, shows that it reached 7.2 exabytes per month at the end of 2016, up from 4.4 exabytes per month at the end of 2015. And predictions have it on an accelerated upward trend, reaching 49 exabytes per month by 2021 and 71 exabytes per month by 2022.

But in order to get there, we must first see an abundance of additional spectrum released. Of course, the exact amount depends on such factors as application types, deployment configuration, radio access technology, spectrum efficiency, geographic location and quality of service requirements. And whether we are talking higher data frequencies or lower frequencies, demand is coming from every angle.

Addressing the former, 5G introduces a unique lens from which to view the conversation of spectrum. The examination of the potential spectrum bands across all bands shows that all spectrum is suitable for 5G applications. And higher-frequency radio spectrum is considered to be particularly important for fixed 5G. But while 5G necessitates the availability of newly licensed spectrum pools, it has been said that most spectrum resources below and above 6 GHz will not be repurposed for 5G in the immediate future. This makes it important that other licensed spectrum bands below 6 GHz be made available for 5G applications in the near future.

Telecom has identified certain chunks of radio spectrum as being critically important for 5G, such as mid-frequency bands or “mid-bands” include both 3.5GHz and 3.7-4.2GHz ranges, or high-frequency or millimeter wave (mmWave) bands include 24-37GHz ranges. Some of these spectrum resources are shared spectrum that require clearing and/or development of sharing mechanisms. This is where regulators and government agencies must step in to assure that a reasonable amount of licensed spectrum is made available for initial 5G deployments.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in early 2018, U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the commission is prepared to make 5G-ready wireless spectrum available through auctions (the FCC has already approved resales of existing 28GHz and 39GHz spectrum held by satellite providers). According to Pai, the FCC has already allocated 150Mhz of industry-shared spectrum within the 3.5GHz band. This would allow 5G devices and other applications to use it.

Sound spectrum policies form the basis upon which companies make decisions and, in turn, help drive the demand for products and services. Such policies should be reliant on market forces, rather than government mandates; streamlined spectrum assignment mechanisms that promote the efficient use of the spectrum and the introduction of new technologies to the marketplace; and active participation in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other international and regional forums with the view toward building a global consensus on important telecom issues.

The Future of Spectrum

A big concern for the network of the future is the availability of spectrum. Is the solution a wider focus on optimizing the spectrum we currently have? TIA NOW talks to Steve Crowley, a consulting wireless engineer who was named by Forbes as a top 10 mobile influencer in the industry.

video
5G Pros and Cons

5G wireless technologies will be upon us soon but who is shepherding the research and standards for 5G? Join TIA NOW as they speak with Afif Osseiran of Ericsson, who heads the effort for the EU project METIS on 5G research and standards.

video
Future of Video, Competition and Open Internet Roundtable

The FCC is currently considering proposed Net Neutrality rules intended to ensure the Internet remains open, focusing prominently on the Future of Video. Generating over a million comments to the FCC, few recent communications policy issues have generated such broad public scrutiny. Join TIA as we explore and clarify the issues at a Luncheon Roundtable.

video
What is Spectrum Sharing?

The spectrum community is converging in a way that they haven’t done before. Sharing of network and frequency bands is in the near future says Tom Stroup, CEO of the Shared Spectrum Company.

video
ICT New Year’s Resolutions in 2015

TIA’s New Year’s Resolutions in 2015 focus on topics and issues in the ICT industry that impact our members and the industry. This year there is no shortage of challenges to face in the technology and policy spaces - and TIA’s CEO, Scott Belcher, is front and center to give us his resolutions and predictions…

video
AWS-3 Spectrum Auction: "A Smashing Success”

Scott Belcher, CEO of the Telecommunications Industry Association, says the AWS-3 auction was a “smashing success,” and congratulates those involved in generating $40 billion in revenue. Next on the FCC’s agenda is the broadband spectrum auction, expected to commence in 2016.

video
Industry Solution Sets: "Members Get It"

What are TIA’s solution sets and how are they delivering value through markets, technology and policy? John Jacobs, Vice President of Membership, Market Development and Industry Relations at TIA says solution sets are important to apply to our businesses as our industry continues to change and evolve.

video
TIA 2015 Keynote: Fred Moorefield, Dept. of Defense CIO Office

Fred Moorefield, Director of Spectrum Policy and Programs at the Department of Defense, Office of the CIO, speaks at the TIA 2015 Network of the Future Conference. He spoke about how, through public and private partnerships, today’s spectrum limits can be tomorrow's spectrum opportunities as spectrum sharing policies evolve through a culture of trust.

video
Dept. of Defense Talks Spectrum Sharing at TIA 2015

Fred Moorefield, Director of Spectrum Policy & Programs at the Department of Defense CIO Office, discusses the record spectrum auction and the DoD's perspective on spectrum sharing.

video
Post-Keynote Interview: FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly talks about the the net neutrality debate, 2016 spectrum auction, 5G and much more, following his keynote at the TIA 2015 Conference.

video
The U.S. Position on 5G

Within the mobile industry, 5G will be the buzzword of 2015 and for years to come. Experts expect to see the first deployments of 5G in countries like Japan and South Korea, by 2018. But as the US is regarded as a leader in wireless 4GLTE deployments, why are we perceived as oddly behind in…

video
Global Operators Shifting 5G from Fantasy to Reality

TIA NOW spoke to industry leaders on a live video panel discussing the results of TIA's 5G Operator Survey and White Paper. The 5G operator survey provides guidance to the industry on spectrum, technology, timeliness and potential services for 5G.

video