Issues

Wireless Spectrum

Defining the Issue

Background

Cisco’s Position

Additional Resources

Defining the Issue

Consumers around the world continue to turn to mobile devices for voice, data, and Internet access. At the same time, demand continues to grow for technologies relying on wireless fixed use, also known as “transport” links or, in emerging markets, as access connections. The world’s leading mobility technologies—incumbent technologies such as GSM and CDMA, and new ones like WiFi and WiMax—are constantly evolving to provide ever more robust broadband services. All of these factors spotlight the need for strategically allocated radio spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed.

Background

Regulators who oversee spectrum play a key role in ensuring access to broadband spectrum is transparent, efficient, and equitable. One of the pitfalls in regulating the wireless spectrum is assigning specific frequencies to particular technologies, which inadvertently leads to “picking a technology winner.” Limiting spectrum to a particular service without flexibility or a plan for future allocations can result in unintended consequences. For example, in some developed countries, spectrum that has been assigned to inefficient 20th century technologies and services now needs to be migrated to 21st century technologies and services. Of course, countries also must work together to harmonize their spectrum allocations, such as 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, to better support the needs of global citizens, businesses and international relations.

Cisco’s Position

In addition to being the largest manufacturer of WiFi devices that use license-exempt spectrum, Cisco is also a vendor of WiMax base stations, antenna systems, and client cards. In addition, many Cisco networking technologies and solutions are designed to work with, and enhance, the operation of wireless networks. As a leading provider of wireless technology solutions, Cisco supports:

  • New allocations and re-allocations of spectrum for broadband uses, including:
    • 700 MHz, which was globally harmonized for wireless broadband services by the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2007. In countries where 700 MHz is occupied by analog television, Cisco supports the transition to digital broadcasting with the goal of opening up spectrum suitable for broadband applications
    • 2.5 and 3.4-3.6 GHz, frequencies used by WiMax systems. Cisco is working with the WiMax Forum to open this spectrum around the world.
    • 2.4 and 5 GHz, license-exempt spectrum used by WiFi networks.
  • Regulators should broadly allocate spectrum without regard to specific technologies, and should set minimum technical rules necessary to avoid harmful interference.
  • Regulators should not specifically limit particular frequencies to a specific use (e.g., spectrum that may be used today for mobile TV delivery could also be used for bidirectional broadband services).

Additional Resources

International Telecommunications Union

The National Telecommunications Information Administration