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12.28.2007
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
New ABI Research report builds case for spectrum sharing

With little more than a year to complete their transition to digital transmission, broadcasters are facing a new complication in their effort to make the analog cutoff and digital switchover easy and painless for viewers.

As frequently reported in this newsletter and others, high-tech companies are advancing their case with regulators and lawmakers that unlicensed white space devices can successfully share spectrum used by broadcasters for television transmission. Their contention relies on the successful implantation of new spectrum-sensing technology used to alert the devices to the presence of television and wireless mic signals to pre-empt any harmful transition from the device. Broadcasters have expressed concern that such technology doesn’t work and if it’s allowed to come to market, it will result in massive harmful interference that could potentially leave DTV viewers nonplused and the digital television transition in ruins.

While industry groups are working to protect broadcast interests, Microsoft, Philips Electronics North America and others have submitted a second generation of spectrum-sensing prototype white space devices for testing to the FCC.

Into this controversy comes “Software Radio and Dynamic Spectrum Access,” a new report from ABI Research that offers a broad view of the issues involved. The main benefit of dynamic spectrum access, it says, will be to improve spectrum utilization, which today is at best less than 17 percent in urban areas and 5 percent elsewhere.

From spectrum sharing also flows the additional benefit that spectrum becomes cheaper to use, which will stimulate the development of new services and applications that would otherwise be uneconomical, it says.

Applications could include sharing UHF spectrum between terrestrial TV and mobile networks, and allowing UHF spectrum to be used by other technologies including 3G, WiMAX and 4G services and networks. All these wireless technologies could eventually come under a management regime that replaces fixed allocation of radio spectrum with real-time traded spectrum, it says.

Software Radio, Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio are enablers for DSA, the report says. Alternative approaches using other technologies could also emerge. What is clear is that fundamental changes must be made to how spectrum is allocated and used, if regulators are to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, the report says.

For more information, visit www.abiresearch.com/products/market_research/Software_Radio_ and_Dynamic_Spectrum_Access.



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