Spectrum: learning to share

Spectrum’s growing scarcity has led to increased interest in both database-managed services and the use of unlicensed spectrum. Sam Fenwick looks at the current state of play

Spectrum is like land in the world of real estate: everyone wants it, but nobody can make more of it. There is growing demand from IoT and high-bandwidth-intensive services such as video streaming, while even low-bandwidth services such as two-way radio struggle to find the spectrum they need for new business in urban areas.

To complicate the situation further, Dean Bubley, founder and director of Disruptive Analytics, says: “There’s a general recognition among the regulators that it’s going to be difficult to clear existing bands of incumbent users.” He therefore believes that “there’s going to be relatively less clearance and reuse and more varying forms of sharing and coexistence”.

Another factor is the way that the cellular industry is looking to millimetre wave technologies to deliver high bandwidth and use previously relatively untouched areas of the radio spectrum. However, given spectrum above 3GHz’s poor in-building penetration, the high probability that the bulk of IoT devices will be present in indoor environments and the way in which most users spend the majority of their lives indoors, Kalpak Gude, president of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA), asks if traditional spectrum models make sense.

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