As EE continues to develop its 4G – LTE – network, its focus turns to operations in the 2.6 GHz band, where it needs to ensure its next-generation services for its mobile phone customers do not interfere with vital systems such as air traffic radars operating at 2.7 GHz.
Spectrum regulator Ofcom has produced an exacting framework for this process, seeking to guarantee both that safety is not compromised and that EE, which has committed huge resources to buying the spectrum rights and building its network, actually gets value for its investment.
As part of the framework, Ofcom is stipulating that not only must operators consider current radars but also future developments such as the migration of radar systems to S-band.
To help achieve this, EE has used ATDI’s flagship planning and modelling tool ICS telecom as well as the company’s 20 years of expertise in dealing with both the current situation and the one to come.
“There’s an element of politics here as well as engineering,” comments ATDI managing director Peter Paul. “EE needs its network to operate into the long term; air traffic controllers need radar to operate into the long term. Making those two imperatives sit together, particularly as radars move one at a time into the S-band, takes discussion and some diplomacy – as well as extremely precise modelling.”
A 4G/LTE signal has the power to saturate a radar receiver thereby rendering the system useless. To help customers avoid such problems, ATDI has built a new function into ICS telecom specifically tailored to the needs of EE and other 4G operators when trying to coexist with radars.
“The development of ICS telecom has been driven by customer needs since it was launched two decades ago,” Peter notes. “Everything in it now is of profound practical value to the people using it. They asked, we delivered. That’s the wonderful flexibility of being a smaller company.”