& cplSiteName &

Europe Waits for 4G Spectrum

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan

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
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
Wednesday, November 30, 1:00PM EST
SDN & the Software Defined Data Center
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
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 Custom TV
ZTE BBWF Highlights

10|26|16   |     |   (0) comments

At BBWF 2016, ZTE showed a broad range of innovative technologies that are kick-starting an ultrafast broadband journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
T-Mobile: AT&T & TW Means Ma Bell Not Focused on Mobile
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/24/2016
Sprint: Revenue up 3%, Capex Will Rise Again
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
'Oh, Were You Looking for This?' Click Here
'I was just playing some games...'
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.