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Wireless and Spectrum Management Wireless and Spectrum Management

Licensed Wireless

Unlicensed Wireless


Licensed Wireless

Issue
Historically, useable radio spectrum was sharply limited by available technology. However, advances in radio technology, such as modulation and antennas, have expanded available spectrum. Currently, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), composed of member nations from around the globe, administers a worldwide spectrum plan with wavelengths ranging in size from a few kilohertz (long waves) to over 90 gigahertz (very short waves). Today's technologies include offerings that serve both fixed users and mobile users. Among the common uses of spectrum are television and radio broadcasting, cellular telephones, public safety communications, satellite communications as well as numerous military uses.

Consistent with use categories that the ITU applies to parts of the spectrum, individual nations divide licensed spectrum into non-overlapping blocks. Licenses give exclusive rights of transmission to the licensee in a given geographic region. This solves the problem of potential overlap or interference with transmissions. But, it tends to leave blocks of spectrum unused. Increasingly, governments are considering innovative ways to ensure that spectrum is used efficiently, including secondary leasing of spectrum by the licensee and authorizing unlicensed underlays of licensed spectrum on the condition that the unlicensed devices do not interfere with licensed users.

Wireless & Spectrum Defined
In order to relay wireless communications, the radio waves must go through the earth's atmosphere. Spectrum is a conceptual tool used to organize and map a set of physical phenomena. Electric and magnetic fields produce (electromagnetic) waves that move through space at different frequencies. The set of all possible frequencies is called the electromagnetic spectrum. The subset of frequencies between 3,000 Hz and 300 GHz is known as the radio spectrum.

Impact to Business
Wireless communication technologies are proliferating worldwide. For example, many regions, particularly Asia, are experiencing significant growth in mobile Internet communications compared to traditional landline communications.

In addition to voice and data services offered by cellular service providers, businesses located in the U.S. can also take advantage of a recent Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) ruling to allow user "registration" of outdoor links for point-to-point communication. These links, operating at 70 and 80 GHz are designed to transmit data at fiber optic speeds.

Additional new wireless broadband technologies for enterprises are also on the immediate horizon. Service providers are trialing 802.16 ("WiMax") fixed services, and a fully mobile standard for this technology is under development. Other service providers are trialing pre-standards versions of 802.20 technology, which is fully mobile. Both permit the transfer of packets at high data throughput rates. These technologies are likely candidates for a licensed wireless broadband service at 700 MHz, when analog television broadcasting is fully transitioned to digital broadcasting.

Status
In the U.S., the FCC in November 2004 released a decision that amends its technical rules to allow commercial off the shelf (COTS) 802.11 technology, known as "WiFi" (/wigh-figh/ - wireless fidelity), to be used to support licensed public safety broadband services at 4.9 GHz. The new rules are expected to take effect in early 2005.

In the "millimeter wave" spectrum at 70 and 80 GHz, the FCC has tentatively designated three database managers and has opened up the spectrum for "link" registration by enterprise users. The Wireless Communications Association, representing the manufacturers of devices for this band, advocates that several rule changes should occur, including that the FCC should mandate that all registering entities conduct an up-front interference analysis to ensure that existing high speed links will not be subject to interference. An FCC decision is expected in early 2005.

In the U.S., current federal law provides that analog television broadcasting will cease by the end of 2006 or at a later date selected by the FCC based on the existence of a defined set of market facts that demonstrate the widespread availability of both digital television broadcasting and digital television reception by consumers. It is clear that the 2006 date cannot be met, given projected market conditions. Key officials at the FCC, and in the U.S. House of Representatives, have indicated an interest in selecting a date certain of January 1, 2009. The high technology industry, including consumer electronics companies, is urging policymakers to adopt a specific date. Once the transition is complete, 24 MHz of spectrum will be turned over to public safety licensees for an interoperable voice service, while the majority would be devoted to some form of licensed wireless broadband service. Similar public policy debates are expected to occur in other nations due to the desire to migrate broadcast technology to a more robust digital format.

In Europe, the digital switchover dates vary from one country to another. For instance, the UK target date is the end of 2012, while there is still no date set in France as terrestrial digital TV has not yet been deployed. The 2005 European Regional Radiocommunications Conference will address the issue of spectrum dividend and what should be done with frequencies freed up by the end of analog broadcasting.

Additionally, the European Commission and some Member States are working on a more liberalized spectrum framework which includes spectrum trading as well as more flexible conditions of use.

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Cisco Position
For high-powered services and services that require expensive network build-outs, Cisco favors exclusive use of spectrum in order to protect users' capital investment in equipment.
Cisco will continue to support new spectrum allocations at regulatory agencies, at international spectrum organizations and through Congressional legislation.
Cisco possesses no "technology religion" with respect to licensed wireless broadband technology.
New wireless broadband technologies such as WiMax (802.16) and 802.20 show promise, and may be interesting to consider as licensed services.
As a member of the WiMax Interoperability Forum, we closely follow developments around the 802.20 standard. We view these new technologies as complementary to, but not replacements for, unlicensed WiFi services.
Regarding recent and pending U.S. FCC actions:
We applaud their decision to modify its rules to allow 802.11 technology to be readily used to offer licensed broadband communications services to public safety agencies.
For the 70/80 GHz proceeding, we are pleased that the FCC opened up the spectrum for "link" registration by enterprise users but we strongly recommend they should quickly revise its rules to require upfront coordination of frequency use by enterprises who seek to use these links. Upfront coordination is inexpensive and avoids interference with existing users.
A date certain for the end of analog TV broadcasting should be set no later than January 1, 2009.

Key Messages
Wireless broadband needs to be a policy priority. And, Regulators should:
Harmonize, on a regional and international basis, issues related to spectrum usage with the goal of stimulating innovation, producing economies of scale for equipment manufacturers, reducing time to market for products and meeting user needs, such as regional and global roaming.
Be wary of accepting invitations to choose one technology over another. Making early decisions may foreclose the development of a technology or 'pick' winners and losers.
Monitor the development of wireless broadband services for public safety in the U.S. market, to determine if their country should create a similar service for public safety agencies.
Look for opportunities to free up spectrum for wireless broadband, such as by ending the use of analog TV broadcasting by a date certain.
Recognize that for wireless systems that support broadband at higher power, the cost of equipment to enterprise customers dictates the need for exclusive use of spectrum - such as the millimeter wave spectrum (70/80 GHz) that users will "register" their links in a database.

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Resources
International Telecommunications Union
World Radiocommunication Conferences
The European Communications Office
The European Union Radio Spectrum Policy
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission
The National Telecommunications Information Administration

As of January 2005



Unlicensed Wireless

Issue
Historically, useable radio spectrum was sharply limited by available technology. However, advances in radio technology, such as modulation and antennas, have expanded available spectrum. Today, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), composed of member nations from around the globe, administers a worldwide spectrum plan with wavelengths ranging in size from a few kilohertz (long waves) to over 90 gigahertz (very short waves). While many wireless services are licensed to a specific provider for that provider's exclusive use in a geographic area, some spectrum is designated for use by unlicensed devices.

Consistent with use categories that the ITU applies to parts of the spectrum, individual nations are responsible for implementing country-by-country spectrum decisions, including designating spectrum for unlicensed use. Spectrum designated for unlicensed use can either be designated for unlicensed devices only, or the unlicensed devices may need to share the band with licensed users. In the latter case, unlicensed devices must not cause interference with licensed users.

In an unlicensed spectrum system, no license is granted and any device that is certified to meet the technical requirements for the band is allowed to transmit. In the new world of wireless technologies, this approach has been very successful - allowing for a range of wireless services, including Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) that communicate with client devices such as laptops or PDAs. Due to the low cost of these systems, and the highly competitive market structure that has evolved to produce them, new uses for WLANs are evolving quickly. Globally, Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) are using the technology to deliver broadband services to rural areas. While in urban areas, cities are increasingly using WLAN to create metropolitan-wide networks (MAN) to facilitate city services, build tourism and provide broadband to underserved residents.

Wireless & Spectrum Defined
In order to relay wireless communications, the radio waves must go through the earth's atmosphere. Spectrum is a conceptual tool used to organize and map a set of physical phenomena. Electric and magnetic fields produce (electromagnetic) waves that move through space at different frequencies. The set of all possible frequencies is called the electromagnetic spectrum. The subset of frequencies between 3,000 Hz and 300 GHz is known as the radio spectrum.

Impact to Business
The popularity of WLANs in contributing to enterprise productivity has created a demand for more unlicensed spectrum. Businesses that address the consumer market may also be affected by the explosion of "WiFi" (/wigh-figh/ - wireless fidelity) devices for the home. You can now purchase WiFi home security systems or WiFi audio or video distribution systems. Development is well underway of WiFi telephones.

Wireless broadband services licensed to enterprise users represent an important business opportunity for the industry. At 2.4 GHz and in the newly-opened frequencies at 5 GHz, market opportunities for wireless LANs for enterprise and residential customers are enhanced by consistent rules across jurisdictions worldwide.

Status
In 2003, the World Radio Conference (WRC) agreed to dramatically expand the spectrum available for unlicensed devices opening up 255 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band. Implementation of this decision is well underway by the world's leading nations, and we expect the industry will have WiFi devices operating in this band in 2005.

The U.S. and Europe have led the world in taking the regulatory steps necessary to expand the use of unlicensed devices worldwide. The U.S. rules were announced in November 2003. While in Europe, the European Union (EU) issued its harmonized framework for the 5 GHz band in November 2004. This band is used in radar and by various military applications in some EU Member States. Dynamic frequency selection (DFS) inserts unlicensed devices while protecting the existing applications.

Additionally, U.S. regulators are considering an innovative proposal that would allow the operation of unlicensed devices in broadcast television "white spaces," those geographic areas where spectrum is set aside for broadcasting, but no one yet has sought a broadcast license.

In the rest-of-the-world, Cisco filed comments with Industry Canada on June 2004 to open 5 GHz to RLAN use.



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Cisco Position
Unlicensed devices have been an enormous success in delivering ubiquitous broadband to enterprises, consumers in their homes and to underserved communities.
The highly-competitive equipment market continues to evolve the technology rapidly and users are demanding more innovative applications, such as city-wide networks.
Regulators should be flexible and responsive as this dynamic marketplace continues to mature.

Key Messages
Wireless broadband needs to be a policy priority. And, Regulators should:
Harmonize, on a regional and international basis, issues related to spectrum usage with the goal of stimulating innovation, producing economies of scale for equipment manufacturers, reducing time to market for products and meeting user needs, such as regional and global roaming.
Acknowledge that unlicensed spectrum allows users efficiently and inexpensively to connect to Internet services, enabling economic activity, education and health care.
Recognize that consistent implementation of unlicensed spectrum bands around the world best promotes a competitive equipment market.

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Resources
International Telecommunications Union
World Radiocommunication Conferences
The European Communications Office
The European Union Radio Spectrum Policy
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission
The National Telecommunications Information Administration
Industry Canada: Spectrum Management & Telecommunications

As of January 2005