Spectrum sharing can allow a number of new players into the spectrum licencing market but ACMA needs to consider building a solid regulatory framework to accommodate this, according to Professor Martin Weiss from Pittsburgh University.
He works in the university's faculty of telecommunications and has been looking at effective use of spectrum for communications for many years. Weiss was speaking at ACMA’s RadComms 2011 event in Sydney.
Mobile data consumption is expected to skyrocket as a result of huge take-up of broadband-enabled mobile devices. As the TV broadcasters undergo the analogue to digital switchover, ACMA will be ‘restacking’ the freed up spectrum and readying them for auction.
Telecommunication providers are eagerly looking forward to the availability of these spectrums to help them abate increasing mobile data demands on their networks.
The headache lies in determining how to allocate spectrum so it will be used efficiently to facilitate healthy competition and maximise the capacity – thus reducing congestion - on each band.
A way to do this is through spectrum sharing.
According to Professor Weiss, “Spectrum holes”, or vacant bits of spectrum that can be used safely to facilitate wireless communication without inference to existing users, can be detected through Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSM) techniques and shared to maximise the potential of a certain spectrum band.
The sharing of spectrum is a complex issue and an effective regulatory framework is required, according to Professor Weiss.
The density of spectrum holes can be controlled and be used for communications so all it comes down to is an adequate pricing model for cooperative spectrum licence trading.
Without one, new entrants will be reluctant to invest in the new spectrum market, Professor Weiss, said.
“New entrants would want a reasonable access strategy so there will be no predation from incumbent spectrum licence holders,” he said. “They don’t want to invest in sharing spectrum without policy support and a framework to protect the investments they’ve made.”
Australia is already ahead of the game with a regulatory framework allow new entrants to join the spectrum game. But failure to sort out a framework around DSA and transaction costs will lead to disastrous results including reduction of competition and wasteful utilisation of spectrum.
“We want to build a framework for flexible licensing that allows us to articulate a set of frameworks dynamically and moving forward,” he said.
“The framework has to have defined rights which are really important to reduce transaction cost, predictable outcomes are also very important if you expect investments.
“Transaction costs are really the key and it has to be low for both new entrants and incumbents, that is, licence holders.”