Spectrum for 5G – where is the watershed for national licensing?

An interesting panel debate on “what’s next” in Spectrum was held at the Johannesberg Summit. The was a rather striking discrepancy between the long and short term views. On hand we had the cellular industry debating strategies to get more licensed spectrum at higher frequencies by leveraging a new generation (5G) of mobile technology. This seems to be a make-over of the old success story of cellular networks (see video clip).

On the other hand the opinion was voiced that at high enough frequencies traditional nation-wide block licensing does not make sense. As the signals do not penetrate the walls of buildings, there is little need for far reaching (excessive) regulator interference protection. Where this watershed occurs, is it a 5, 10 or 30GHz, is still up to debate.

I also brought up the question wether it actually makes sense to share spectrum at all at these frequencies. Sharing implies multiple infrastructures – but is it really a) cost efficient to deploy multiple wireless infrastructures in the same building, and b) will the owner of the building allow it? Instead it seems more efficient at high frequencies to provide exclusive spectrum rights to the owner of the property and regulate fair access to that infrastructure – i.e. regulate infrastructure sharing instead of spectrum sharing.

 

Jens Zander

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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