Spectrum Sharing that Does Not Displace Licensed Users is Coming

Spectrum sharing can take any number of forms, some methods being nearly indistinguishable from spectrum leasing, other forms using the model set by Wi-Fi (essentially uncoordinated sharing), and newer forms relying on various forms of spatial sharing (sharing allowed in some areas, not in others), time-based sharing (as some radio or TV broadcasters might do) and coordinated sharing (either using databases or cognitive radios).

One of the newer thinking about sharing involves sharing of existing licensed spectrum with new users, without relocating the existing users.

Licensed shared access ( LSA), for example, allows licensed services to share spectrum in a band with new users without disrupting existing users, while still increasing the amount of spectrum available for other users.

That is important for a number of reasons, the most important reason being that it is less disruptive than moving users from their current bands to give access to new users. Not only does this approach save the significant costs for relocating users and their access gear from one frequeny to another, it also creates new capacity much faster than any relocation approach requires.

Under the licensed shared access approach, additional users can use the spectrum (or part of the spectrum) in accordance with sharing rules that protect incumbents.

Such approaches almost always will require incentives for the incumbent users to permit sharing.

That might include direct payments from the new user or the regulator, payments to upgrade equipment or take other costly actions than would facilitate sharing or savings on fees paid to the regulator for underused spectrum.

In Europe, such sharing likely will emerge first in the 2.3 GHz band, to support mobile services.

LSA is being worked on in France, Finland, Italy and the Netherlands.

The United States is developing an approach to sharing in the 3.5 GHz band, as well.

A three-layer model is envisioned, with protected incumbent access, priority access (some interference protection) and general authorized access (opportunistic access without interference protection).

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