Next-Gen Spectrum Crunch

Spectrum availability will be a barrier for LTE deployment, finds a new Unstrung Insider report

Michelle Donegan, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

November 7, 2007

2 Min Read
Next-Gen Spectrum Crunch

As the standards for next-generation wireless systems evolve, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome will be spectrum availability, finds a new Unstrung Insider report.

According to the report, Evolved HSPA and the Roadmap to LTE, Long-Term Evolution (LTE) has emerged as the frontrunner to become the next-generation wireless standard.NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) is the operator spearheading the technology's development, while Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) recently said they were both developing LTE. (See DoCoMo Tests 'Super 3G' and Verizon, Vodafone Head for LTE.)

The major vendors with LTE research and development initiatives are Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Nokia Networks , and Nortel Networks Ltd. .

But the key barrier to LTE deployment is the lack of available spectrum. And LTE needs a lot of spectrum.

According to an International Telecommunication Union, Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) report, between 1280 MHz and 1720 MHz of spectrum will be needed by 2020 to meet expected traffic growth. Not including spectrum already allocated for mobile communications, the report finds that an additional 1 GHz of spectrum needs to be found for future mobile communications technologies.

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC) in Geneva, which is where the world's spectrum regulators meet every four years, is currently debating which spectrum should be identified for next-generation mobile communications.

The UMTS Forum has lobbied the WRC for 100 MHz of frequencies in the UHF bands to be allocated to mobile communications. This spectrum is also referred to as the "digital dividend," because it will become available as broadcasters switch from analog to digital TV. (See UMTS Forum Wants Spectrum.)

"It's vital that crucial spectrum decisions are made without delay at WRC-07, giving operators and manufacturers a clear target to plan their technical and commercial strategies for the years ahead," said Jean-Pierre Bienaimé, chairman of the UMTS Forum, in a press release. "Now is the right time to identify new spectrum for IMT. Typically, it has taken around a decade from spectrum being identified to its availability and licensing."

Another lobbying group is the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) initiative, which was founded by China Mobile Communications Corp. , KPN Mobile , NTT DoCoMo, Salt SA , Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), T-Mobile International AG , and Vodafone. This group wants channel widths of 20 MHz in the sub 1 GHz frequencies and 100 MHz in frequency bands between 2 GHz and 5 GHz.

The Unstrung Insider report evaluates the pros and cons of the different spectrum possibilities for next-generation wireless.

The WRC concludes on November 16, and its decisions will shape the future of mobile communications.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

The report, Evolved HSPA & the Roadmap to LTE, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit:

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry on both sides of the Pond for the past twenty years.

Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom, Light Reading, Telecom Titans and more.

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