Why a National Spectrum Strategy is Crucial for US Leadership – Part 2
In Part 1, Ericsson identified the risks of a lack of a spectrum pipeline in the U.S. This blog proposes recommendations for U.S. wireless leadership, especially during the transition from 5G Advanced to 6G. We believe that a strong wireless ecosystem, enabled by an appropriate spectrum policy with available spectrum, is a crucial part of U.S. economic and technological security.
Ericsson recommendations towards a National Spectrum Strategy
In part one of this blog series, we discussed the overall spectrum situation the U.S., and the severe deficit facing the commercial wireless industry. In this part two, we discuss Ericsson’s recommendations.
Ericsson congratulates the U.S. government on starting the development of a National Spectrum Strategy (NSS) that establishes a spectrum pipeline. We urge the U.S. government to expedite the identification of spectrum bands suitable for the commercial and private industries and conclude studies of the same.
In support of that strategy, Ericsson has the following recommendations.
- Establish a spectrum pipeline that supports key mid-band range for mobile allocations - Traffic demand continues to surge for 5G wide-area mobile services, and increasingly for Fixed Wireless Access. Ericsson recommends that an NSS must establish a spectrum pipeline that prioritizes efforts to free up spectrum for wide-area, full-power, exclusive, flexible use licenses. To support projected 5G demands in the near-term (prior to 2027) as well as demand forecasted by 6G in the longer term (after 2028), NTIA should identify 1.5–2.2 gigahertz of additional wideband spectrum in suitable mid-band frequencies that can be repurposed for commercial networks, while ensuring critical federal missions are supported.
- Begin regulatory efforts in key bands immediately—Regulatory efforts are needed to repurpose spectrum in the lower 3 GHz (3.1–3.45 GHz) band, the 4.4–4.94 band, and the 7 to 8 GHz (7.125–8.5 GHz) band. In addition, as we move toward 6G applications, additional spectrum in the 7–15 GHz range is needed. Spectrum in this range offers a balance of wide-channel bandwidths and reasonable outdoor propagation. Lower bands in this range are preferred because the lower the frequency band, the wider the area that can be covered while still providing the capacity networks need.
- Avoid considering higher frequencies as a substitute for mid-band spectrum—The 12.7–13.25 GHz band, as proposed in the recent FCC NPRM, will be especially useful as a complement to the wide-area network, where lower band frequencies provide ubiquitous coverage, and the 12.7 GHz band is deployed to expand capacity increasingly across the network. This band is not a substitute for mid-band spectrum, however.
- Ensure that technical regulation does not unnecessarily restrict network deployments —Technical regulation for these higher frequency ranges should be flexible in order to allow higher power, considering the additional path loss associated with these frequencies. Regulations in commercial spectrum bands should, furthermore, not impose avoidable burdens on equipment manufacturers or establish policy that maintains unreasonable and unwarranted protection of legacy systems.
- Harmonize spectrum globally —The spectrum pipeline should ensure that, to the extent possible, spectrum is harmonized globally, even where that means repurposing federal bands domestically. The pipeline should recognize that wide-area, full-power, wide-channel, exclusive use access regimes remain a priority for the United States to maintain its competitiveness and to lead in future technologies. Pursue an evolving spectrum pipeline, with specific calendar milestones well into the future, so that stakeholders know which bands to target for study and development.
- Sharing solutions should be simplified when needed and eliminated where possible—The spectrum pipeline should avoid specifying sharing rules for these bands with other services. If sharing solutions are unavoidable, simple pre-defined solutions like geographic coordination zones that guarantee full power, assured access, wide channelization and interference protection are preferred. Temporal sharing that can accommodate very infrequent and predictable incumbent activity, as in the case of passive remote sensing satellites, can also be considered. Sharing solutions should seek to accommodate incumbent uses of the band through the least restrictive means on the new services in the band, including relocation or repacking of incumbents.
- Ensure funding for federal system upgrades—The NSS should identify opportunities to upgrade and replace aging federal systems with a view to reduce federal mission reliance on mid-band spectrum in order to enhance federal systems and ensure U.S. security. This work should first study federal systems to determine where there are opportunities to modernize those services. Systems should be prioritized for upgrade or replacement. Systems can be made more efficient and easier to upgrade over time by utilizing commercial partners and standards. There should be funding incentives to accomplish these federal mission enhancements.
- Lead global spectrum harmonization for 6G—We encourage the U.S. to assume a leadership role during the identification of globally harmonized 6G spectrum. Globally harmonized spectrum allocations result in a broader ecosystem for technology, equipment and engineering expertise, leading to economies of scale, lower costs for deployment, more rapid rollout of new services and enhanced competition among suppliers to the U.S. and global markets.
- Set and enforce receiver standards—Receivers have a role to play in avoiding harmful interference. It is recommended that commercial and federal spectrum users alike should be accountable to upgrade or replace receivers over time. Spectrum policy concerning immunity performance should create incentives to repurpose spectrum, especially for exclusive, flexible-use spectrum licenses. Government should partner with industry in research and development and standards settings.
It is imperative that the NSS sustain U.S. leadership in wireless technology, especially as we approach 6G. If the vision for 6G is to be realized, the U.S. needs abundant spectrum allocations that are suitable for commercial network deployments, include support for macro power levels, are harmonized globally and have the right set of technical characteristics.
The spectrum pipeline must serve as a catalyst for innovation and investments that will form the foundation for U.S. technological and economic leadership.
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