Re-farming spectrum key to sustaining mobile network investment

Aircom International has stressed why spectrum re-farming must play a key role in enabling cost effective LTE network migration. Aircom calculates that by re-using existing 2G and 3G spectrum for LTE, operators can make significant cost savings, extend the lifespan of existing spectrum assets for another three years, and reduce the amount of additional spectrum they require by up to a third. While significant, these benefits can only be realised if operators follow a careful planning process to minimise service degradation for existing 2G and 3G services.

After calculating prices paid for new LTE spectrum in North America and Europe, Aircom believes that existing 2G and 3G spectrum (5MHz) could be re-allocated to LTE deployment for less than 0.5% of the cost of buying new spectrum at auction. By following a meticulous planning process for re-farming, operators can facilitate a measured migration path to LTE. Furthermore, operators can reduce demand for new additional spectrum and ensure sufficient funds are set aside to invest in the provision of quality LTE services.

“Given the economic pressures that mobile operators face, and the urgency in which they need to find additional network capacity, spectrum re-farming has become a key cost effective enabler of LTE migration,” says Fabricio Martinez, Services Director at Aircom. “Not only does re-using existing spectrum deliver substantial cost savings, it reduces demand for new spectrum in the short-term and could help bring down the cost of new licenses. This will be crucial in ensuring the mobile industry learns from the mistakes of 3G and ensures there is sufficient cash available to deliver the quality service experience LTE networks have promised.”

Aircom has calculated that there is sufficient re-farmed spectrum available to sustain quality LTE service delivery for a period of up to three years. While operators will still need to purchase additional spectrum at forthcoming auctions, by re-using what they have, they can significantly reduce initial capital outlay purchasing new licences. This ensures that additional money can be set aside for ongoing network investment and development of LTE network infrastructure and services, driving best possible throughput and quality of service. The company is keen to stress however that this must not be to the detriment of existing 2G and 3G services.

“Effective spectrum re-farming techniques remove existing spectrum allocated to 2G and 3G service delivery,” continues Martinez. “Operators must plan spectrum re-farming very carefully to ensure minimal service degradation. Careful planning will enable operators to build additional capacity in a more measured way, ensuring spectrum efficiency is maximised for new and existing services.”