After a decade of work, Digital Global Systems (DGS) is emerging from stealth mode with spectrum sharing technology that could be applied to the lower 3GHz band.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

September 20, 2023

4 Min Read
Mark Zaroogian startup Digital Global Systems (DGS)
Mark Zaroogian, COO, DGS(Source: DGS)

According to Mark Zaroogian, the time is right for startup Digital Global Systems (DGS) to exit stealth mode.

"It's perfect timing for us," he told Light Reading. The company today announced its plans to attend the upcoming MWC Vegas trade show with partners including Airspan, Dell and others. "We want to introduce the industry to DGS."

And it's clear why Zaroogian feels this way. For the past decade, DGS has been diligently building a warchest of patents related to spectrum sharing. That's important considering US government officials may release a massive amount of midband spectrum for 5G in the lower 3GHz band, and many officials have loudly voiced support for sharing in that spectrum band.

"It comes at about the right time for us, for sure," said DGS COO Zaroogian of discussions about the lower 3GHz band. "The government can share spectrum and do it dynamically."

Zaroogian explained that DGS has been tinkering with spectrum sharing technologies since 2013. The company began field testing its technologies with customers – including those among first responders – starting in 2015.

In the intervening years, Zaroogian said DGS has obtained more than 100 patents in the area of spectrum sharing. That, he said, puts the company in the same league as Qualcomm. That's important because Qualcomm is a major player in the global wireless industry, and has long promoted spectrum sharing technologies. Qualcomm has also built a massive leasing business around its patent licenses – and now it could potentially face competition in that area from DGS.

"We have a rich portfolio of patents," Zaroogian said.

The technology

Zaroogian said DGS has developed technologies that can continuously collect data around an RF environment. He said the company's approach not only monitors power levels but also how they change over time and geography. "We can make recommendations based on what's happening in the real time environment," he said.

For example, he said DGS technology could be used to help operators reduce their power usage by getting a better sense of where and how their signals are performing, on a real-time basis.

Zaroogian said DGS' technology is based in software that can be distributed into hardware. Meaning, it can be installed into 5G radios, sensors or phones in order to monitor RF environments in real time.

That approach gives DGS the ability to pursue multiple business models, Zaroogian explained. He said the company could sell its software, license its technology or even provide RF sensing services on a subscription basis.

The company, founded in 2013, now counts around 50 employees. It recently added Paul Kaminski to its board of directors – a noteworthy move considering Kaminski has a long history at the intersection of science and the US military. The Department of Defense is currently using the lower 3GHz band and has voiced support for spectrum sharing technologies.

"It's a very exciting time to really scale up this operation," Zaroogian said of DGS.

The sharing battle

Spectrum sharing has grown into a major topic among US government policy officials. The FCC pioneered modern spectrum sharing in the 3.5GHz CBRS band, which was opened for unlicensed commercial operations in 2019. Thanks to a network of environmental sensors paired with spectrum database administrators, the band is shared among commercial users and the US Navy.

However, the US cellular industry has generally opposed spectrum sharing. Instead, companies like Verizon and T-Mobile prefer to obtain exclusive access to spectrum licenses that they won't have to share with anyone else.

In pursuit of exclusive access to the lower 3GHz band, the US wireless industry's main trade group, CTIA, released a report critical of the CBRS marketplace and spectrum sharing in general. But other studies, including one from a White House agency, have highlighted the benefits of spectrum sharing.The topic of sharing ought to receive even more attention later this month. That's when the NTIA is scheduled to release a report on the lower 3GHz spectrum band. The US military currently runs radar and other operations in the 3.1GHz-3.45GHz band, but the wireless industry wants to get access to that lower 3GHz band for 5G. The NTIA's report is expected to consider the possibility of sharing and exclusive-use licensing paradigms in the band.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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