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Governments must allocate more spectrum now for mobile broadband
UMTS Forum urges WRC-07 to identify additional frequencies for cost-effective coverage and capacity

Addressing delegates and representatives of national administrations at this year’s ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07), UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé emphasized the need for timely allocation of sufficient harmonized spectrum to support current and future demand for mobile broadband services.

A four-year postponement of crucial decisions until the next WRC in 2011, warned Bienaimé, would delay a new generation of high bit-rate mobile services.

Under Agenda Item 1.4 at WRC-07, the UMTS Forum is urging administrations to support the identification of additional globally-harmonised frequencies to enable cost-effective coverage extension for IMT-2000, as well as meeting future capacity demand for extremely high data-rate IMT-Advanced services.

Digital dividend from UHF frequencies can provide cost-effective coverage
Firstly, the UMTS Forum is supporting the harmonisation of around 100MHz of frequencies in the UHF band to augment existing allocations of spectrum for IMT in lower bands. These frequencies could be released with the coming switch-over from analogue to more efficient digital TV broadcasting – the so-called ‘digital dividend’.

At these lower frequencies, mobile services can be delivered cost-effectively for wide areas. These low frequencies also provide improved in-building coverage. This will be of immense value, especially in outlying rural regions where many people are still deprived of basic access to voice and Internet services.

As part of an ongoing contribution to the work of CEPT/ECC Task Group 4 (use of the digital dividend), the UMTS Forum investigated a number of alternative planning possibilities for the digital dividend in the UHF band that would allow the successful co-existence of mobile and broadcasting services in this spectrum.

In particular, UMTS Forum studies reveal the technical feasibility of creating a 112MHz sub-band for mobile applications in the upper part of the UHF band, while ensuring that national digital terrestrial TV broadcasting requirements are still met, taking into account the assumptions of the GE-06 plan.

C-band gives greater flexibility and capacity for current and future mobile services
Secondly, the UMTS Forum is urging WRC-07 to allocate the whole C band (3400-4200 MHz) for mobile services and identify it for IMT applications. The mobile allocation of the whole C-band will give flexibility in implementing IMT for countries where parts of band are used for other services.

Currently used for Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) as well as Fixed Services, this band promises the best potential to accommodate high bit-rate IMT-Advanced services with large carrier bandwidths up to 100MHz.

The UMTS Forum suggests that deployment of IMT-Advanced is possible in the band 3400-4200 MHz without causing harmful interference to FSS earth stations by employing geographical or frequency domain separation. Geographical coordination can be used in countries where the locations of the FSS earth stations and the frequencies they use are declared to the regulatory authority. In countries where FSS usage is ubiquitous, band segmentation may be used to make spectrum available for IMT-Advanced.

Thirdly, the UMTS Forum also supports allocation of the candidate band 2300-2400 MHz to mobile services on a primary basis and to identify it for IMT applications.

“It’s vital that crucial spectrum decisions are made without delay at WRC-07, giving operators and manufacturers a clear target to plan their technical and commercial strategies for the years ahead”, said Bienaimé. “Now is the right time to identify new spectrum for IMT. Typically, it has taken around a decade from spectrum being identified to its availability and licensing.”

“The market success of 3G/UMTS to date has been enabled by the timely identification of sufficient globally harmonised spectrum”, continued Bienaimé. “Spectrum is the ‘oil’ that drives this engine forward, and at WRC-07 we want to ensure there’s enough fuel in the tank to last us for a journey that stretches into the next decade and beyond.”

“Delaying these crucial decisions until the next World Radiocommunication Conference could lead to the fragmentation of spectrum for future IMT networks”, warned Bienaimé. “And ultimately there’s one person who will suffer from this fragmentation – and the delays it will bring – and that’s the customer.”

Dubbed the ‘Wireless Olympics’, WRC-07 is a key milestone in the Radiocommunication calendar where future Radio Regulations are mapped out. Decisions made at WRC relate to all usage of spectrum, including mobile and satellite services, digital broadcasting, marine/maritime distress, emergency planning and other services.

Visitors to the UMTS Forum booth during the first two weeks of the conference (until 02 November 2007) can experience mobile broadband in action with live demonstrations of multimedia services delivered by high-speed HSPA networks.