A wide spectrum of opinions were shared at a PIMRC panel session on shared spectrum access

The first day of the PIMRC 2013 conference In London, 8-11 september 2013,  there was a panel session about shared spectrum access. The proposal came from partners in the METIS project working with spectrum issues, the members of the organizing committee were:

  • Mikko Uusitalo, Nokia
  • Jonas Kronander, Ericsson
  • Jan Markendahl, KTH

I had the honor to be moderator of the 90 minute panel with the title:
Is spectrum sharing really needed?

We managed to invite a number of highly distinguished panel members, all with different background and perspectives. The panel members were:

  • Dr. Tim Irnich, Senior Research Engineer, Ericsson Research, Germany.
  • Dr Michael Fitch, Chief of wireless research, BT Technology, UK.
  • Professor Reza Karimi, Technical Policy Director, Ofcom, UK.
  • Professor Petri Mähönen, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

When preparing for the panel we all agreed that it should be no long power point presentations followed by very short discussion – if any!
Instead the target was to create a panel with short statements and real discussions.
The panelists were not allowed to show any slides (they were quite happy with that).
The major part of the panel was organized as discussions from the perspective of different actors where ALL panelists gave their view assuming they did represent that specific actor.

Initially the panelists were asked if spectrum sharing is needed “now” and in “five years”?
The panel had different opinions but they saw a larger need in five years. Professor Mähönen claimed that spectrum sharing is not needed.

At the main discussion all panelists did put on the “hat” of the different actores resulting in  a large number of statements and some discussions. Some key comments are listed below for each of the actors:

  • An operator without licensed spectrum
    One comment: Actors like BT in the UK investigate this but good business cases are hard to find
  • IT companies like Google, Facebook
    One comment: Google is interested in TV white spaces and some countries in Africa with a relaxed spectrum regulation.
  • A mobile operator with licensed spectrum
    One comment: This may be the only way for operators to meet the data tsunami
  • Broadcasting company
    All panelists did agree that broadcasters would not be seen as “victims”
  • Telecom Regulator
    Reza from Ofcom stressed that regulators work for society and to make best use of spectrum. Petri said that regulators need to have sufficient in-house competence in order to be miss-lead by the stakeholders
  • Equipment manufacturer
    One comment: Spectrum sharing will add more complexity and hence it will be a challnge for manufacturers to include in new systems and products. Who dare to take the risk?
  • University
    Here professor Mähönen said “I cannot see any new potential for doing more research in the area”. The other panelists said that there is a need to find win-win business cases and that independent business research would be beneficial.

As a moderator it was interesting to observe the audience. All the time 70-80% per cent really did pay attention to what the panel members said, even the very last minutes before lunch. Obviously the format was interesting but comments from others are welcome.

Finnally, the audience was asked if spectrum sharing is needed. For the current situation around one third said yes and for five years ahead around half of the audience raised their hands.

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