What is Spectrum?

Defining Spectrum:

Spectrum relates to the radio frequencies allocated to the mobile industry and other sectors for communication over the airwaves. Because the mobile industry has demonstrated — time and time again — its potential to generate economic value and social benefit, operators are urging national regulators to release sufficient, affordable spectrum in a timely manner for mobile. Additional spectrum, including both coverage and capacity bands, means mobile operators can connect more people and offer faster speeds.

A spectrum refers to the range of frequencies available for broadcasting data and communication. Radio Waves, 2G, 3G, 4G (etc) all have different ranges of frequencies which they operate within. This range depends on the rate of data transfer, the type of transfer, range of transfer (etc).

Sale of a portion of the spectrum refers to various telecom. companies bidding to gain exclusive ownership of the particular frequency put up for sale.

Sale of 5MHz of 3G:

In the Auction by Govt. the frequency bands are sold at the price per MHz.

Suppose govt. has decided to sold frequency band at 3500 crores per MHz, therefore, sale of 5 MHz of 3G means that one has to pay 5×3500 crores.

Who is responsible for licensing spectrum across the globe?

Spectrum is a sovereign asset. That is, use of the airwaves in each country is overseen by the government or the designated national regulatory authority, which manages the radio spectrum and issues spectrum licenses.

Why does it take so long for governments to release new spectrum?

There are several factors that play into spectrum planning for mobile. For example, at the international level, the International Telecommunication Union and regional bodies are deeply involved in agreeing and assigning future spectrum bands for mobile, bound by international treaty. National regulatory authorities are concerned with interference that could arise from incompatible spectrum use along borders, which must be managed or negotiated with neighbouring countries. At the national level, even after reallocating a particular spectrum band for mobile, there is the work of migrating incumbent spectrum users, such as broadcasters or defence programmes, out of the band in a practical, managed way. Finally, equipment manufacturers need to develop affordable devices that work seamlessly within new frequency bands. Each of these steps can take years to achieve before new spectrum can be licensed and used for mobile services.

Is one ‘slice’ of radio spectrum essentially the same as any other?

Not at all. Spectrum bands have different characteristics, and this makes them suitable for different purposes. In general, low-frequency transmissions can travel greater distances before losing their integrity, and they can pass through dense objects more easily. Less data can be transmitted over these radio waves, however. Higher-frequency transmissions carry more data, but are poorer at penetrating obstacles. National regulatory authorities have a big job, therefore, to allocate and license appropriate spectrum to the services and sectors that need it, maximising the value generated by this finite resource.

Doesn’t it make sense for governments to raise as much revenue as they can from spectrum licences?

While tempting for some governments, revenue maximisation should not be a primary consideration of spectrum auctions. Fair allocation of spectrum at a reasonable cost to industry will maximise the value generated by a spectrum band, and this in turn has a positive impact on social as well as economic development — creating jobs and increasing productivity, among many other benefits.

Is the licensing of digital dividend spectrum a threat to the broadcast industry?Digital television broadcasting is so much more efficient than analogue broadcasting that the conversion makes a true win-win outcome possible for mobile operators and television broadcasters. Countries that make the transition can free up considerable spectrum, known as the digital dividend. For mobile, the freed-up spectrum has made two potential bands available, 790–862MHz (aka the 800 band) in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and 698–806MHz/694–790MHz (aka the 700 band) worldwide. These frequencies are ideal for mobile, offering good coverage characteristics, reasonable capacity and availability in sufficient blocks for efficient deployment of mobile broadband. The social benefit of releasing digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband cannot be overstated; access to the internet through mobile bridges the ‘digital divide’ between technology haves and have-nots, and mobile services in this band can reach into previously unserved rural areas in a relatively cost-effective way.

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Information Brought To You By Biovolt Corporation.

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