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July 01, 2010


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Chad Pralle

One of the major secondary drivers of fixed partitioning is the need for service providers to be able to control their spectrum resources. Today, there are agreed-upon conventions for determining the value of a spectrum asset based upon the size of the spectrum allocation, the population covered, the spectral efficiency of currently-available technologies, and the spectrum band.

Technologies which enable sharing of spectrum will require service providers to take a leap of faith, something they're not likely to do on their own. A case in point: Verizon's CEO recently asserted that there was already sufficient spectrum available even as the FCC was planning to double spectrum resources for consumer broadband. I'm fairly certain this statement was based upon a competitive analysis, and not on future capacity requirements.

So, the technologies need to be developed, yes. Regulators could, as a first step, make some spectrum available for excess capacity to entice its use. Service providers will be naysayers until they have a capacity hotspot with a technology and excess spectrum to fix it. If the access standards support it and the spectrum is available it will be embraced, if perhaps a bit slowly at first.

As an aside, Self-Organizing Networks (SON) have a huge potential to enable this kind of spectrum sharing, but without an open-standard paradigm around SON, it threatens to be a vendor-specific feature of access networks. The concept of a central intelligent system which could facilitate this kind of spectrum sharing requires things such as interference mitigation and load balancing across a multi-vendor (and perhaps multi-service-provider) network. Vendors today are embracing open-standards at the edge of the access network, but at the same time, building completely proprietary SON solutions in the core. The appropriate pressure by regulators could steer this in the right direction.

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Dan Reed
Dan Reed

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