& cplSiteName &

Europe Waits for 4G Spectrum

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
9/16/2008
50%
50%

Representatives from European regulators met today to hash out the details on how to allocate future 4G spectrum that many operators want for Long-Term Evolution (LTE) deployments.

The spectrum on the agenda at the meeting in Paris is the so-called "digital dividend" in the 790 MHz to 862 MHz range, which is the bit of spectrum that will be freed up when broadcasters switch from analog to digital TV systems and will be made available to mobile operators.

This frequency band is the European equivalent of the 700 MHz spectrum that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned for $19.5 billion early this year. But unlike operators in the U.S. that already have their licenses, European operators will have to wait until possibly 2011 at the earliest to get their hands on this prime airwave real estate because the frequency band plan is not yet determined and the politics involved with removing broadcasters from the spectrum could be complicated. (See AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G , Verizon & AT&T Win 700 MHz Sweeps, UMTS Forum Wants Spectrum, Next-Gen Spectrum Crunch, and GSMA Applauds WRC.)

The exception here is the U.K., which has a different frequency band for its digital dividend spectrum and plans to hold an auction next year. (See Ofcom to Auction Spectrum.)

The work on that frequency band plan for the European digital dividend spectrum starts at today's meeting of the project team responsible for IMT technology issues at the CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) in Paris.

According to an industry source, who asked not to be named, the CEPT working group will likely recommend two band plan options: one for frequency division duplex (FDD), which uses different frequencies to transmit and receive signals, and the other for time division duplex (TDD), which uses one channel and timed transmissions to send and receive. Cellular operators have traditionally favored FDD systems.

For the FDD plan, the spectrum is likely to be divvied up into two 30-MHz blocks with a 12-MHz gap in the middle, according to Unstrung's source.

The TDD plan is not formulated yet because there is some debate about whether the channel widths should be 5 MHz or 8 MHz.

Even though these are early plans, and not scheduled to be finalized until the middle of next year, it appears that there is little support for a band plan that mixes both TDD and FDD together simply because of the limited 72 MHz that's available in this band.

"All members of the [UMTS] Forum are against the mix of TDD and FDD," says Jean-Paul Rissen, chair of the manufacturers group at the UMTS Forum .

The digital dividend spectrum, like the 700 MHz spectrum in the U.S., is valuable because it has good signal propagation for better coverage and getting inside buildings. Ideally for LTE, operators in Europe will want a blend of 2.6 GHz spectrum (which has only been auctioned in Norway and Sweden so far) in urban areas for high capacity and the digital dividend spectrum for coverage in rural areas. (See Sweden Awards 4G Spectrum and Craig Goes to Norway.)

"Access to sub 1 GHz spectrum is critical for the long-term success of mobile broadband because it allows operators to provide coverage at significantly lower cost," says Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "Operators with 850 MHz, such as Verizon Wireless and Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), have been able to build out extensive 3G coverage much faster than competitors in the higher bands. Europe is hamstrung only being able to offer 3G at 2.1 GHz, and the sooner refarming of the 900 MHz band is allowed, the better."

Indeed, with "refarmed" 900 MHz -- that is, opened up to other technologies than just GSM -- some operators are considering using this spectrum for LTE in addition to the digital dividend spectrum, according to Unstrung's source. (See Down on the (Re)Farm.)

While it might seem slow -- given the first digital dividend auctions are likely to be in 2011 -- the work at the CEPT is important because it should help ensure a common approach to allocating this spectrum across Europe, which is critical for keeping operator costs down.

"It's important to have a harmonized band plan across EU," says Roberto Ercole, director of spectrum regulation at the GSM Association (GSMA) . "Also, we need to keep the cost of terminals down. If you go country specific with your band plan, then you increase the cost of terminals quite significantly."

Even though the 2.6 GHz and digital dividend spectrum auctions are slow in coming in Europe, some argue that operators are not in the same rush to deploy LTE like operators in other parts of the world like the U.S., for example. (See UK Operators Brace for Spectrum Struggle and Ofcom Delays 2.6GHz Auction.)

"There is no real urgency to deploy LTE in Europe," says Rissen. "There is less competition in Europe than in the US. In the U.S., there is Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) Verizon wants to get ready with LTE in case the [WiMax] network is a success."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Creating Dynamic Networks to Meet Business Needs

5|26|17   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


As enterprises need more dynamic networks, service providers need to deliver on-demand, virtual services to meet those needs. AT&T is creating a networking fabric to mix-and-match SDN technologies for enterprise customers, says Roman Pacewicz, AT&T senior vice president for offer management and service integration, in an interview at Light Reading's
LRTV Interviews
EdgeConneX on Industry Headwinds & Tailwinds

5|26|17   |   2:41   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017, EdgeConneX CTO Don MacNeil discussed the value of partnerships in the digital world.
LRTV Documentaries
4 Steps Toward a Higher Network IQ

5|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, EXFO CEO Philippe Morin explains how sensors and analytics can boost a network's intelligence and enable on-demand customer experiences. Find more BCE 2017 coverage here.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (1) comment


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.