Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM) - Regulatory & Allocation Method of the Future?

Radio (RF) spectrum is key to the future success of (wireless) radiocommunications. It is a valuable commodity and a unique, shared resource. Unlike other natural resources, it can be repeatedly reused - if certain technical conditions are met and user regulations are followed.

In practice though, it is a finite resource, accommodates a limited number of simultaneous users, and requires careful planning and management to maximize its value for all services and users
— especially since worldwide demand for communication spectrum is increasing rapidly.

Many new wireless technologies present significant challenges to the development of prudent business models as well as to long-established regulatory schemes for spectrum allocation and management.

Rigid spectrum allocation policies limit innovation and cannot readily accommodate pressing needs for more commercial bandwidth.
Operators look to evolve technologies that support their business cases. Licensing or policy making that would not allow this natural evolution or mandate a particular technology in a particular band is too rigid for many operators. New generation infrastructure and terminals must support ever wider ranges of frequencies, harmonized or not, to meet highly heterogeneous frequency plans in markets around the world. Terminals will need to operate worldwide and comply with numerous regulatory environments and market opportunities, thus supporting frequency allocation and heterogeneous technologies. New technologies such as software-defined radio (SDR) or cognitive radio (CR), wideband power amplifiers and filters are already available in the infrastructure and will soon be available in terminals, supporting frequency heterogeneity with minimal additional cost.

Within this context, traditional ways to assess the merits of new technical solutions, and
allocate and tax frequency use are inadequate. Consequently, this presents major challenges in the introduction of new technologies and efficient spectrum use, such as ensuring new spectrum is only assigned when really needed.

This 2006 Alcatel-Lucent white paper describes a new concept known as DSM (Dynamic Spectrum Management) which would enable wireless operators to dynamically access appropriate spectrum to deliver new wireless services, while providing greater choices for spectrum users. It provides an overview of DSM from the engineering, technology, economic and radio policy aspects and considers critical parameters that impact its implementation.

The paper should be required reading for anyone involved with or concerned about current methods of spectrum regulation and allocation in the U.S., and, perhaps even more importantly, with how any spectrum management methods chosen will ultimately serve to protect this resource from eventual political and economic oversell.


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