Qualcomm, Ericsson, Red conduct spectrum sharing technology pilot in France

Ericsson, Qualcomm and French technology start-up Red Technologies are taking part in a pilot to test new technology designed to enable the sharing of licensed spectrum bands to improve spectral efficiency and flexibility.

The trial of Licensed Shared Access (LSA) is the first to take place in France and was described by the participants as "the most technically extensive pilot worldwide" of the recently developed technology. Axelle Lemaire, France's Digital Affairs Minister, officially launched the pilot in Paris this week.

The trial is using Ericsson's radio access network including carrier aggregation and the Radio Dot System; a dynamic spectrum management platform from Red Technologies; and 4G devices from Qualcomm. The spectrum for the pilot was allocated by the French Ministry of Defence in the 2.3-2.4 GHz band and has also been authorised for use by French regulator Arcep.

Rethink Wireless noted that the French test focuses on indoor capacity and coverage based around small cells and said this type of scenario is expected to be the primary driver for shared spectrum.

According to a joint release from the three companies, the success of the French LSA pilot should lead to the release of high volumes of licensed spectrum in France within the next 24 months.

"On a wider scale, the application of LSA to the 2.3-2.4 GHz band across Europe will release enough spectrum to enable innovative 5G services for all EU citizens," the companies said.

Lemaire commented that the initiative "touches the core of the French telecoms industry and has the potential to considerably enhance the consumer mobile experience in France as well as generate significant economic return."

Wassim Chourbaji, VP of government affairs at Qualcomm Communications in France, added that the LSA pilot is "a vital step towards the realisation of Europe's Digital Single Market.

"Spectrum availability is a core condition for flourishing technology adoption and innovation," he said.

According to comments on the European Commission's Digital Agenda site, from a regulatory point of view spectrum sharing can be achieved in two ways: either by the Collective Use of Spectrum (CUS), allowing spectrum to be used by more than one user simultaneously without a licence; or using Licensed Shared Access (LSA), under which users have individual rights to access a shared spectrum band.

Another approach called Authorized Shared Access (ASA) is also being developed in the U.S.

In October last year, Plum Consulting carried out a study on LSA that was commissioned by techUK on behalf of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (SPF). The consultancy firm noted that there are currently no proposals for the implementation of LSA in the UK, adding that the UK already facilitates sharing between multiple uses under the Wireless Telegraphy Act.

"It should be noted that the work in Europe on LSA neither constitutes a mandate nor a decision for national regulatory authorities to put LSA in place. There is some uncertainty over whether LSA could become mandated at a European level at some point in the future," Plum Consulting said.

The company had also previously carried out a study in December 2013 to investigate the economic benefits of LSA in 2.3 GHz in Europe.

"The costs of making the spectrum available are relatively small -- around €50 million plus administrative costs while our medium estimate of the benefits from savings in infrastructure costs is around €12 billion. We find the need for the band to help support peak traffic demands varies considerably by country, largely because of differences in traffic levels," Plum Consulting said in the report.

For more:
- see this LSA release
- see this Plum Consulting study from October 2015
- see this Plum Consulting study from December 2013
- see the EC comments on spectrum sharing
- see this Rethink Wireless article

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