URSI General Assembly 2011, Politics and Spectrum usage

The URSI General Assembly is a collosal event that took place in hot, hot Istanbul, Turkey, August 13-20 in the giant (and cool) Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center. The conference boasted a myriad of (too many?) parallell sessions for the various sections, and invited general talks. My main mission was to deliver an invited paper from the QUASAR project entitled Opportunistic Secondary Spectrum Access – opportunities and limitations in commission E (Electromagnetic Compability) session on dynamic and secondary spectrum use. The later session was fairly well attended and quite some discussion arose around the question “Are there ‘squatters rights’ in the spectrum”, i.e. can systems will old, poor/low-cost receivers dictate how adjacent frequency bands should be used? Examples are receiver blocking in 700 MHz TV bands when nearby 800 MHz mobile devices are operated in the vincinity. The solution for these problems are not found in the technical domain (modern equipment has mostly very low out-of-band emissions) but in the political domain (what is the cost of replacing TV-sets?).

There was also a really interesting “practical talks” from the Pakistani operator Wireless Tribe, that has had the reverse problem. They are operating a EGPRS system in Lahore and had sigificant interference problems from Indian operators across the boarder operating CDMA-1 networks. The latter was not disturbed by the Wi-Tribe installations and had no real incentive to participate in cooridination activities. Raising the issue to the national regulator didn’t help (I guess the frosty relationships between the countries added to this). Anyhow, here the new entrant had to foot the bill. Wi-Tribe had to lower antenna heights and install roughly twice as many base stations as planned to compensate for the interference!

The conference otherwise was rather low budget (no lunches, WiFI access was 5 Euro/day). Most of the invited talks and sessions I visited were not really attended. I attended a lecture on new antenna design with 20 people in an auditoriums with 2000 seats.

About Jens Zander

Professor Jens Zander is professor in Radio Communication Systems at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. He has been among the few in Swedens Ny Teknik magazine's annual list of influential people in ICT that have been given the epithet “Mobile Guru”. He is one of the leading researchers in mobile communication and is the Scientific director of the industry/academia collaboration center Wireless@KTH. His research group focuses on three main areas – the efficient and scalable use of the radio frequency spectrum, economic aspects of mobile systems and application and energy efficiency in future wireless infrastructures.
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