The following country examples reflect many of best practices described in the preceding section. Some of them feature practices for spectrum trading and spectrum commons management. Given the recent focus at the international level on identifying bands for Broadband Wireless Access, we look at the leading practices of several developing and developed countries where BWA is being implemented.
Brazil – Broadband Wireless Access
In January 2008, ANATEL in Brazil issued 4 licences per licensed area for 3G wireless deployment in the whole country. Coverage obligations for all licensed operators will lead to coverage over the whole Brazilian territory (probably 8 years after the licences have been issued). Operators are allowed to share network components such as towers as well as spectrum in order to provide services in municipalities with less than 30,000 inhabitants. ANATEL will likely issue new regulations on the conditions for spectrum sharing and sharing of active elements of the network. Spectrum sharing arrangements must be authorized by ANATEL. The rules governing the 3G auction in Brazil refer expressly to spectrum sharing as a means of providing coverage in rural and remote areas (i.e. the municipalities with less than 30,000 inhabitants).
ANATEL issued a number of licences for WiMax in the 2.6 GHz and five licensees in the 3.5 GHz band bands. A new auction for additional 3.5 MHz spectrum is planned for 2008. Some of the licences have already started authorized trials.
Europe - Flexible User Rights and Spectrum Trading
The European Union (EU) does not manage radio spectrum. Instead the Member States supervise its management at the national level and in international coordination. However, the management of radio spectrum in EU Member States is influenced significantly and increasingly by European legislation. Legislation is aimed at facilitating harmonization of regulation and promoting competition through the liberalization of markets. The key legislation is contained in a number of directives and decisions passed in 2002.
The Radio Spectrum Decision laid the foundation for a general EU radio spectrum policy and is binding on all Member States. The objective of the Radio Spectrum Decision is to ensure coordination of radio spectrum policy approaches by facilitating harmonized conditions for the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum.
The Radio Spectrum Decision encourages the European Commission to organize consultations to take account of the views of Member States and all other stakeholders. To facilitate more effective consultations, the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) was established by separate decision.
The RSPG launched a consultation on secondary trading of spectrum in February 2004 following a request received from the EC in 2003 for an opinion on secondary trading. In November 2004, the RSPG published its Opinion on secondary trading.
RSPG has adopted a cautious stance with regard to spectrum trading considering it to be “beneficial in certain parts of the spectrum” and that “European administrations should introduce secondary trading with due care”.
The EU now proposes that one-third of the spectrum below 3GHz could have flexible usage rights and be tradable by 2010.
RSPG is elaborating on the concept of Wireless Access Policy for Electronic Communications Services (WAPECS) to move away from too narrowly specified allocations and applications, for which specific spectrum is designated.
Guatemala – Spectrum Trading
Guatemala and El Salvador are two small Central American countries (with populations of 12,728,111 and 6,948,073 respectively) which decided in 1996/97 to adopt a simple but effective spectrum market which, in the case of non-public sector spectrum, gave private parties exclusive control over use of bandwidth and confined the regulator to defining, issuing and protecting spectrum rights. This note focuses on Guatemala; the regime in El Salvador is similar but not as well documented.
The frequency use title (TUF) created could be leased, sold, subdivided or aggregated at will and lasts for 15 years (renewable on request); they are thus virtually private property. Regulation is restricted to setting aside bands for use by the state and adjudicating interference disputes which are not resolved by mediation.
A physical TUF is a paper certificate listing the frequency band, hours of operation, maximum transmitted power, maximum power emitted at the border, geographic territory and duration of right.
International Telecomunication Union
ITU Resolution 951 (Rev. WRC.07) Enhancing the international spectrum regulatory framework. This resolution establishes guidelines used in evaluating and developing concepts related to four identified options for enhancing the spectrum regulatory framework and for preparing solutions to be discussed at WRC.11. The four options include: keeping current practices, revising current service definitions, creating new service definitions, and introducing composite definitions.
Mauritius – Broadband Wireless Access
In early 2005 with spectrum pollution occurring in the 2.4 GHz band, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) conducted public consultations to receive input on proposed BWA frequency band allocations, technical characteristics and regulatory requirements and issued its decisions within three months. Those decisions opened the 2.5 GHz band for Mobile and Nomadic BWA (IMT-2000) applications by 2010, the 3.5 GHz band immediately for Fixed BWA and the 5.1-5.3 GHz band for low power in-building applications. In 2006, ICTA additionally opened the 5.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands for BWA. Band plans and technical rules were established limiting allowable power levels, separation and channelisation.
As of 2007, there are two mobile licensees providing IMT-2000 and WiMax services on a national basis.
New Zealand – Spectrum Trading and Spectrum Commons
The Radiocommunications Act 1989 was pioneering and radically changed the landscape of spectrum management. New Zealand was the first country to redefine spectrum in terms of property rights and to assign it in a tradable form. New Zealand also pioneered the application of competitive assignments based on auctions for radio spectrum, with the first auction held in 1989.
There are three licensing systems that apply to spectrum in New Zealand:
- The Management Rights Regime (MRR) (applicable to spectrum used primarily for commercial purposes);
- The Radio Licence Regime (RLR), earlier known as apparatus licensing, (an administrative assignment process which applies to spectrum used for applications in the public interest); and
- General User Licences for devices such as low-powered devices: garage door openers and Wi-Fi).
United Kingdom – Flexible User Rights and Spectrum Trading
OFCOM is currently shifting U.K. spectrum policy towards a flexible system of spectrum management through the liberalization of spectrum usage rights and spectrum trading. A gradual approach is being adopted, embracing progressively more bands and greater flexibility in use but relying on competitive assignment methods. This progression is exemplified by OFCOM’s intention to apply service and technological neutrality in a forthcoming spectrum assignment involving frequencies currently used to support terrestrial analogue TV broadcasting, the proposed use of spectrum user rights in a forthcoming auction of the L Band, and in other auctions.
The United Kingdom has also adopted the policy of extending market methods of spectrum management to public sector spectrum, giving public sector users the right to trade or lease their spectrum and the obligation to go into the market place to acquire additional spectrum. OFCOM is also extending the application of administrative incentive pricing.
- Administrative Incentive Prices (AIP): are intended to encourage licensees of non-auctioned spectrum to use their spectrum rights efficiently; legislation enables annual licence fees to be set above administrative cost to reflect a range of spectrum management objectives (efficient management and use, economic and other benefits, innovation and competition), having regard in particular to availability of present and expected future demand for spectrum. OFCOM has been using AIP since 1998 and revised the approach in 2004. There AIP is used to value spectrum at its marginal value as a proxy for the opportunity cost to the representative spectrum user in those bands where AIP fees were charged.
United States – Flexible Spectrum Use and Broadband Wireless Access
The United States has been a leader in regard to spectrum liberalization. Liberalized spectrum management primarily relates to the non-government spectrum, whereas the usual framework for government spectrum continues to be traditional. Spectrum Policy Initiative – 2003 addressed several important components:
- Auctions: it was proposed that the FCC should be granted permanent authority to assign licences via auction (competitive bidding);
- Spectrum Licence User Fees - to ensure that licence holders pay the opportunity costs of their spectrum use.
The United States has also moved progressively in the direction of flexible use of spectrum, in conjunction with generally liberalized practices. The Communications Act specifically authorizes the FCC to permit flexible use where:
- such use is consistent with international agreements to which the United States is a party;
- the Commission finds, after notice and opportunity for public comment, that such an allocation would be in the public interest;
- such use would not deter investment in communications services and systems, or technology development; and
- such use would not result in harmful interference among users.
The FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force – 2002 advocated:
- increased reliance on both the exclusive use and commons models, and reduced use of traditional allocation mechanisms;
- maximum feasible flexibility for licensees, limited only by interference concerns;
- increased use of spectrum trading, including the ability to lease spectrum on a rapid or an overlay or underlay basis.