Increasing the Unlicensed Spectrum is the Right Thing to Do

By    March 26, 2014

The recent push by President Obama and the FCC to add more frequencies to unlicensed spectrum will not only boost the tech economy, it is also the right thing to do.

Additional unlicensed spectrum is important for both wireless broadband providers, who leverage unlicensed spectrum for their core services, and cellular network operators, who offload bandwidth to unlicensed frequencies (such as Wi-Fi) in order to prevent their licensed networks from becoming overloaded.

Cambium Networks is the pioneer in using unlicensed spectrum for broadband connectivity. We connect the unconnected and strive to provide Internet access to the majority of the world’s population that currently lack it or who are forced to pay too much due to limited options.

Additional unlicensed spectrum furthers this goal; however regardless of how much spectrum is available, if products use it in an uncoordinated fashion, the maximum benefit will never be achieved. Regulatory bodies such as the FCC can only influence the coexistence of vendors in the licensed spectrum; the equipment vendors in the unlicensed spectrum, as well as the users themselves, need to work together to use this valuable asset in the most efficient way.

Equipment vendors and users should do the following:

–  Leverage the spectrum using the most effective protocols. This way less spectrum is needed to pass the same amount of data. 

–  Prevent spillage of energy between channels. Equipment vendors must design their products to have focused channel support, so additional channels remain clean and can be used by others.

–  Time synchronize transmissions on the same frequency so packets do not collide. This is critical to prevent wasted spectrum when multiple devices are deployed at the same location. Technologies like GPS Synchronization used by our ePMP™ product line significantly improves efficiency through time synchronization.

–  Do not emit energy in all directions when traffic is sent in one direction. The more directional your antenna, the less powerful the radio needs to be. This not only uses less electricity, but it also makes sure the spectrum in other directions can be used in tandem.

–  If the target distance is short, whisper instead of shout. This preserves both power and spectrum. When a radio radiates more energy than needed, it affects a wider area and leads to unnecessary interference.

Additional unlicensed spectrum provides significant benefit to the population. The White House and FCC are doing the right thing with this initiative; however we, as vendors and users, also need to work to make sure the benefits are fully realized.

Let’s do our part.