The UK is Running out of Spectrum!

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According to Real Wireless the UK is heading for a spectrum crunch in 2020 unless around 300MHz more cellular and 350MHz more Wi-Fi spectrum is made available. This claim is based on analysis by Real Wireless on how the UK can ensure growth in wireless services can be met cost-effectively, using its CAPisce analysis tool to evaluate current networks, the potential of the latest 4G, Wi-Fi and white space technologies as well as the new frequency bands being considered for cellular use.

Real Wireless used CAPisce as part of the UK 4G spectrum auction planning to prepare a comprehensive model of the UK, with detailed analysis of population, geography and the technologies from 2G to 3G, to 4G and beyond.
As the spectrum crunch becomes more of a concern for carriers and regulators around the world, it is crucial that networks are carefully planned and the best use of scarce spectrum carefully considered. As part of this, Real Wireless was recently asked to chair a group within the UK Spectrum Policy Forum as part of the UK government’s drive to develop a national spectrum strategy. The new group unites government and regulators with industry representatives – including operators, vendors, defence and emergency services.

“Although new spectrum provided in the 4G auction has given some breathing space in meeting new demand growth, we will face a renewed spectrum crunch in around 2020 without further action,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Technology Director and co-founder of Real Wireless. “The challenge faced by governments and regulators is how best to manage this demand and ensure that consumers and other wireless users continue to see an improvement in their service, while ensuring other critical services still have access to the spectrum they need. We’ve recently upgraded our CAPisce tool and can now assess the costs and technical impact of shared spectrum, white space devices, small cells, Wi-Fi and the potential for 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz alongside existing bands. While we’ve conducted the analysis for the UK so far, these upgrades now allow us to tackle the challenges faced in any international market.”

CAPisce can predict the CapEx and OpEx implications for a given level of population coverage, whether 80% or 99.99% and includes both traditional macrocells alongside new small cell, managed Wi-Fi and white space technologies. It can also go beyond basic coverage and predict the capacity and performance issues which dictate the actual mobile broadband experience. As such it includes modelling of both macrocells and small cells, to consider an optimal cost-effective combination for given performance and coverage targets. The model currently supports LTE-A (Release 10/11) and can be used to evaluate the implications and deployment aspects of LTE-B (Release 12/13) or 5G candidate architectures.

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