Despite being repeated constantly, the statement is no less correct–spectrum is the lifeblood of cellular innovation. And, as 5G begins its long-term evolutionary path with rollouts around the globe, spectrum is fundamental in moving from providing enhanced mobile broadband to providing the latency, reliability and support for massive device density that will underpin not just new consumer experiences but also enterprise and industrial digital transformation. And spectrum sharing of all sorts is key to getting from where we are today to where we need to go tomorrow.

Operator and enterprise opportunities of spectrum sharing

Here we will examine three different flavors of spectrum sharing–shared access to licensed frequencies, dynamically sharing frequencies between LTE and 5G NR, and cellular in unlicensed bands, that, taken individually and collectively, will be central to the future of 5G.

In an effort to spur development of 5G and make the highest and best use of spectrum resources, regulators around the world are re-examining how spectrum is currently allocated and looking for opportunities to enhance mobile services for operators and for users.

Shared access to 3.5 GHz

To take the U.S. as an example, the 3.5 GHz CBRS band, after years of effort, is now on the cusp of being used at scale by both operators and private users. Shared access to the frequencies, which are governed by a three-tiered prioritization scheme, allows the federal government to continue its incumbent use, lets carriers acquire licenses to bolster existing network capacity, and enables enterprises to invest in private networks in targeted geographies. And that same model can be applied in other frequencies here in the U.S., 3110 MHz to 3550 MHz for instance, or ported over to other bands in other countries.

Dynamic spectrum sharing

In the U.S. dynamic spectrum sharing is poised to take some carriers from relatively limited 5G coverage using millimeter wave bands to nationwide coverage by facilitating the simultaneously transmission of LTE and 5G in the same band. In Switzerland, Swisscom has tapped DSS to scale its mid-band 5G network up to 90% population coverage by the end of 2019. In addition to rapidly growing the reach of 5G, DSS also eases the transition to standalone 5G. With an SA network, operators will be technologically positioned to start offering up enterprise-facing and application-specific network slices.

5G NR in unlicensed bands

Then there’s the two-pronged value proposition of extending 5G into the unlicensed 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands. Tapping unlicensed for LTE came relatively late in the overall development of the standard but Licensed Assisted Access proved instrumental in helping operators bridge the gap from LTE to gigabit LTE. MulteFire has seen relatively limited adoption but the concept of cellular operating in unlicensed spectrum is sound.

Unlike with LTE, the possibilities of unlicensed for 5G have been part of 3GPP and industry discussions for some time and, as such, will have a much more near-term impact. Operators can leverage non-standalone NR-U to aggregate licensed and unlicensed bands to enhanced 5G services and, in the standalone mode, there are a host of private network opportunities for enterprises.


The post 3 spectrum sharing paradigms and how operators and enterprises will benefit appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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