Independent engineering firm Aircom International said spectrum refarming needs to play a key role in enabling cost-effective LTE network migration.
The company calculated that by re-using existing 2G and 3G spectrum for LTE, operators can save on costs, extend the lifespan of their existing spectrum assets for another three years and reduce the amount of additional spectrum they require by up to a third.
After calculating prices paid for new LTE spectrum in North America and Europe, Aricom said it believes that existing 2G and 3G spectrum (5MHz) could be re-allocated to LTE deployment for less than 0.5 percent of the cost of buying new spectrum at auction.
"Given the economic pressures that mobile operators face, and the urgency in which they need to find additional network capacity, spectrum refarming has become a key cost effective enabler of LTE migration," said Fabricio Martinez, services director at Aircom, in a release. "Not only does re-using existing spectrum deliver substantial cost savings, it reduces demand for new spectrum in the short-term and could help bring down the cost of new licenses. This will be crucial in ensuring the mobile industry learns from the mistakes of 3G and ensures there is sufficient cash available to deliver the quality service experience LTE networks have promised."
Aircom has also determined that there is sufficient refarmed spectrum available to sustain quality LTE service delivery for a period of up to three years. While operators will still need to purchase additional spectrum at forthcoming auctions, by re-using what they have, they can significantly reduce initial capital outlay purchasing new licenses.
"Effective spectrum refarming techniques remove existing spectrum allocated to 2G and 3G service delivery," continues Martinez. "Operators must plan spectrum refarming very carefully to ensure minimal service degradation. Careful planning will enable operators to build additional capacity in a more measured way, ensuring spectrum efficiency is maximized for new and existing services."
- see this release
GSA: 26 commercial LTE networks in operation, 174 in progress
European Commission pushes through 2G spectrum refarming rules
Mallinson: Why is LTE still delayed in most of Europe?