Public consultation on broadband wireless access
1. General Framework
Broadband Wireless Access is a term used to describe new broadband wireless technologies that involve mobile, nomadic and fixed applications. Growing demand for bitstream access to provide multimedia services at fixed locations has led the industry to develop new technological solutions capable of surmounting the technical hurdles involved (such as line of sight), with more efficient modulation techniques than those that have added mobility.
ANACOM has been following the course of discussions in various international fora on the introduction of this type of technology. This debate has looked at both the technical issues involved (e.g. technical solutions, the spectrum and standards) and at a regulatory framework for this technology, with the aim of achieving harmonisation in the adopted solutions.
At the same time, it should be noted that several market players have expressed an interest in bringing this technology to Portugal, and that several requests have been received to make part of the spectrum available for BWA technical trials with WIMAX type systems.
In light of this growing interest, ANACOM is launching this public consultation, taking into account the positions that have been debated in international organisations, especially the European Commission and the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), as well as the results of ANACOM’s own public consultation on Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), with the aim of reformulating usage rights of the spectrum as allocated in Portugal.
In this scope, the European Commission, acknowledging the importance of broadband communications within the i2010 initiative, conferred a mandate 1 upon CEPT to identify the technical conditions, with a view to the operating frequency bands deemed more appropriate and harmonized for BWA purposes and with consideration to such issues as technological neutrality and possible licensing regimes.
It is noted that, in accordance with the current regulatory framework for electronic communications, no technological system is identified in this mandate. A response to the mandate is in preparation by the CEPT’s Project Team – JPT BWA, with conclusion expected by the end of this year.
Key to this EC mandate is the issue of BWA spectrum harmonisation. This issue is crucial for spectrum management, bringing as it does, a range of benefits from a reduction in equipment development costs (economies of scale), interoperability, and faster development and introduction times for solutions that benefit the user.
The choice of frequency bands could be determined by the success of new technologies and their dependant services, and should, whenever possible, be for harmonised bands and not one-off solutions. Accordingly, various frequency bands are being considered for BWA’s introduction. It should be noted that it is BWA applications in generic terms that are at issue, and not any particular technological system (without limit to or exclusion of WiMAX type systems or any other technology already in the market).
The work accomplished to date has led to the conclusion that the priority bands for BWA applications are the 3.6 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands. Concretely, the JPT BWA is studying the technical and regulatory framework for BWA systems in these bands as follows:
- A CEPT/ECC decision that would govern BWA applications in the 3.6 GHz (3400-3800 MHz) frequency bands. It is noted that BWA applications encompass fixed, nomadic and mobile technological systems, allowing the inclusion of a mobility component. In Annex 1 there is a Draft of this document, which is expected to be adopted for CEPT public consultation by the end of this year.
- A CEPT/ECC Recommendation (06)04 on BFWA systems (Broadband Fixed Wireless Access) in the 5.8 GHz (5725-5875 GHz) frequency band, which is shortly to be approved; This document can be seen in Annex 2.
In order to get an overall picture of the BWA issue, it is important to emphasise the most recent activities that ICP-ANACOM has been involved in and that could impact any decision that may be adopted.
As one of the bands under discussion is the 3400-3800 MHz band, it should be also be noted here that ICP-ANACOM has concluded a public consultation on Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). It is further highlighted that the action plan set out in Administrative Rule no. 1062/2004 of 25 August envisages two stages of execution (Stage I and Stage II).
In the initial stage (Stage I), ANACOM, having heard those companies holding FWA licenses, readjusted their rights to use the radio spectrum in accordance with the model set out in Administrative Rule no. 1062/2004 and with the proven interests and needs of the companies. The readjustment of these rights applied only to formerly allocated spectrum with a view to maintaining it and did not encompass requests for additional spectrum or for change of use.
The second stage (Stage II) will see ANACOM defining the allocation process, in view of the available spectrum (e.g. spectrum released by companies who in the course of this process gave up their interest in determined zones) and interest in spectrum acquisition by other entities (including for example existing holders of FWA frequency usage rights or other entities not currently in the market).
Accordingly, it is important to note that any action taken on BWA, especially with regard to the 3.6 GHz frequency band should be viewed in conjunction with the stages above.
With this public consultation ICP-ANACOM hopes to gather opinions from a range of market stakeholders (manufacturers, operators, users and others), before making a decision on the future framework that will govern how BWA applications can be introduced in the frequency bands concerned.
Accordingly and in order to gather information from a wide range of interested parties, ANACOM has posed the set of questions in the following section.
2.1. BWA Framework
a) Define and describe the technologies covered by BWA, indicating positive aspects and possible fragilities.
b) Define the radio parameters of the technologies mentioned above, including:
iii. Duplex mode (TDD/FDD);
v. Standard applicable (if existing);
vi. Coexistence of various technologies and variations of the same technology;
c) What type of use is best suited to BWA technologies: connection to end user, transmission network or both?
d) What types of service could be offered by each technology? Please explain in concrete terms the amount of spectrum needed to provide these services and the capabilities of the identified technologies.
e) What is the target market and how big is the market envisaged for the technologies/services offered?
2.2. Frequency Use
a) What comments do you have on the content of the CEPT/ECC decision and recommendation in Annex?
b) Under what conditions do you consider that an operator authorised to operate FWA in the 3.5 GHz and/or 24.5 GHz or 27.5 GHz bands could expand their services, changing their current technology to use BWA technology?
c) Which frequency bands do you consider suitable for the provision of BWA, taking into account such factors as international harmonisation, the state of technological development and the costs involved, the type of authorisation (with waiver or not of radio license), as well as the need for coexistence with other technology systems? Please state reasons.
2.3. BWA implementation in Portugal
a) Do you consider that access to BWA frequencies should be restricted to certain bodies? If so, please indicate which ones, and give reasons who you consider it necessary to put such restrictions in place.
b) Do you consider that BWA services should be offered nationwide or would it be more suitable to limit them geographically (in which case please give details of the geographic location(s) you consider the service should be limited to)
c) What type of procedures do you consider most suitable for the allocation of rights/selection criteria for BWA systems in the bands mentioned in the Annexes?
d) What type of requirements, as regards coverage obligations, quality of service, interoperability or other, do you consider should apply to usage rights?
e) Do you consider that BWA services will complement or coincide with other existing or future technologies (in operation or planned) in the same or other frequency bands?
2.4. Introduction of BWA systems in the market
a) What conditions do you consider important for the successful implementation of BWA technologies?
b) When do you consider that BWA technologies will have the necessary conditions for successful implementation in the Portuguese market?
c) In what way would you be interested in using and eventually commercialising BWA technologies?
2.5. Are they any other points you consider relevant?
3. Consultation procedures
The statutory attributions of ICP-ANACOM include the promotion of competition and development in communications markets, the regulation and supervision of the communications sector and the management of the radio spectrum with powers to enact processes of public consultation and expressions of interest.
The principle of effective and efficient use of frequencies is fundamental in issues that affect this resource. The implication of this is that allocated frequencies should be used in a similarly effective and efficient manner in accordance with their allocation.
With this public consultation ICP-ANACOM hopes to gather opinions on the introduction of BWA in Portugal from a range of market stakeholders (manufacturers, operators, users and others), before making a decision on the future framework that will govern how BWA applications can be introduced in the frequency bands concerned.
ICP-ANACOM will publish the results of the consultation and undertakes not to disclose comments which respondents to the consultation have expressly marked as confidential.
This public consultation does not in any way bind ICP-ANACOM to adopt particular solutions, even where these are cited in the consultation questions.
Observations and comments should be submitted by 2 January 2007, in writing to ICP-ANACOM, Avª José Malhoa 12, Lisbon, or by email to consultaBWA@anacom.pt.
A specific web page has also been created, containing the document in question.
1 Mandate to CEPT to identify the conditions relating to the provision of harmonised radio frequency bands in the European Union for Broadband Wireless Access applications.
- Broadband wireless access (BWA) https://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=1080597