Regulators brand spectrum sharing key… – Mobile World Live

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LIVE FROM 6G GLOBAL SUMMIT, LONDON: Authorities covering markets across the globe outlined their expectations and challenges in deploying the next generation of mobile network technology, with the ability to share spectrum with incumbent services cited as a key requirement.

In a series of sessions featuring regulatory bodies from the US, UK, Japan, India, Bharain and the European Union, levels of ambition varied for 6G, though the technology being a network of networks incorporating space-based technology and needing to be environmentally sound were a constant theme.

Among the more tempered assessments of the shape of the 6G era, representatives from the UK and US cited a requirement to share spectrum bands with existing services.

David Willis, group director, spectrum, at UK regulator Ofcom, said “we’re already seeing a greater diversity in demand for spectrum”, highlighting a requirement for “sharing by design” moving forward.

He added frequencies earmarked for 6G “are already used by some incumbent services, including defence that cannot be moved. It’s clear we cannot expect these bands to be fully cleared and exclusively [or almost exclusively] licensed as has happened in previous Gs”.

The requirement for sharing spectrum with critical services was also raised by Charles Cooper, associate administrator at US authority NTIA’s office of spectrum management.

“Spectrum fuels national security, aviation, climate monitoring, scientific use and radio astronomy, demanding a balanced approach”, he said, adding the US is also supporting commercialisation of open radio architecture to this end.

This included “work on software defined radio spectrum sensing technology that protects incumbent users, such as government operations, while promoting safe and efficient use of shared spectrum”.  

Levels of expectation for 6G varied across the regulators, though all were broadly positive on its potential, especially for non-consumer applications and each talked-up their nation’s progresses.

Chair of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Anil Kumar outlined his hopes for the transformation of economies and delivering universal service in a sustainable way, with plans for India to be at the forefront of this era.

Learning from 5G
On a more cautionary note, Yoko Nakata, deputy director of the Global Strategy Division of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, said although her country was working on strategies for the next generation, the full value of 5G was yet to be realised.

“We haven’t found the killer app unique to 5G yet and we are hoping to find one with the rollout of the standalone system.”

“But we believe there will be no 6G without the success of 5G so it’s really important that we find some applications accepted by everyone in society”.

The requirement to build on previous generations, be realistic and ensure 6G is an evolutionary technology was raised by Philip Marnick, general director of Telecommunications Regulatory Authority for the Kingdom of Bahrain.

He noted a need for a change of mindset from previous generations, for example: “We need to ask ourselves, do we need a new air interface, if we do, when do we need it?”  

European Union body BEREC’s vice chair Konstantinos Masselos stated the argument for the necessity of 5G to improve broadband speeds was questionable, with this even less likely to be the case for 6G.

“In my opinion 6G will not be about speed, it will be about services and we will see a change from speed-focused networks to service-focused networks,” he added, citing applications requiring “real time” guaranteed performance, for example autonomous driving or smart city applications.

With the commercial launch of 6G still more than half a decade away, these debates are sure to continue over the coming years, though the number of nations represented at this relatively early stage shows there is a global push to ensure they are at the forefront of the coming era.

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