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Saturday, September 28 • 2:00pm - 2:35pm
Technical Principles of Spectrum Allocation

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Spectrum allocation and management is an ongoing process that will benefit from guidance by a set of fundamental technical principles. Historically, spectrum allocation has been an ad hoc, piecemeal system driven by the logic of the moment: in most cases, a commercial enterprise or government agency with a need requested an allocation, and if the regulator agreed, it allocated the best available fit from the inventory. In other cases, spectrum assignment has been initiated by the regulator itself, either to good effect or otherwise.

The result of 80 years of ad hoc allocation is a system in which neighboring allocations sometimes pose tremendous burdens on each other, particularly in cases where high-power systems adjoin low-power ones. Such allocation errors give rise to intractable disputes over spectrum usage rights. Market dynamics are helpful, but not altogether sufficient to create a system of rational allocation as each player maximizes its own interests, which in the short term preserve inefficient allocations in the overall frequency map.

A more rational system of spectrum assignment would respect the principles that are evident in the operation of actual high-demand, high-performance, and high-efficiency wireless networks and in the trajectory of near-term spectrum research and development. In brief, these principles are:

1. Power Compatibility: Adjoining allocations with similar power levels are more valuable than those in which power levels are dissimilar.

2. Sharing: Assignments that serve multiple users or applications are more valuable than those that serve a single user.

3. Dynamic Capacity Assignment: Assignments that allow capacity to be adjusted on demand are more valuable than those that allocate capacity statically.

4. Technology Flexibility: Assignments that permit technology upgrades which increase usage efficiency are more valuable than those without an upgrade path.

5. Aggregation Efficiency: Large allocations are more valuable than small ones as they minimize guardband losses.

6. Market Competition: Allocations that create marketplace competition are more valuable than those that don?t.

7. High-Performance Receivers: Allocations that incentivize the deployment of high-performance receivers are more valuable than those that can?t tolerate common sources of RF noise.

8. All Relevant Dimensions: Allocate ?patches? of spectrum by frequency, power level, place, transmission direction, beam spread, modulation, coding, polarization, quantum states, and time.

9. Redeployment Opportunities: Allocations that free up spectrum for new systems, such as DTV, are more valuable than those that preserve status quo.

10. Support the Research Agenda: Allocations that support R&D are generally more valuable than those that don?t.

These allocation principles flow from empirical knowledge of the nature of spectrum, the current state of the art in radio engineering, and the likely timeline of new developments in radio engineering.

They are complemented by an analysis of research initiatives on spectrum utilization that may make the entire enterprise of spectrum allocation by regulators moot.

Saturday September 28, 2013 2:00pm - 2:35pm PDT
Founders Hall 111

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