Regulators across the world are wrestling with this problem as they oversee their country’s move towards a next generation of services with always at least one eye on their next spectrum auction. Now they are being helped in making their determinations through modelling competence from ATDI.
“Every spectrum allocation involves a lot of politics,” says ATDI managing director Cyprien de Cosson. “In many cases, the regulator is under pressure to release spectrum to incumbent companies with a proven track record while also being pressed to give resources to new companies to create greater competition. With spectrum resources finite and precious, there are a lot of tough decisions to be made about who gets what.”
Informing those decisions is the ATDI modelling tool which allows regulators and operators to address that thorny issue of just what is a viable block of spectrum, in both commercial and practical terms. Viability is judged by balancing the infrastructure required to offer a service given a particular spectrum allotment. The more spectrum, the fewer radio sites needed, the lower the fixed costs and hence the more profits available. Conversely the less spectrum, the more infrastructure needed and the lower the profits. The optimum state can only be arrived at by modelling.
“If an operator is going to invest in a nationwide infrastructure, it needs to know it has sufficient spectrum resources to do enough business to both pay for its investment and make a profit,” Cyprien notes. “Our tool is the result of comprehensive research. It allows a regulator to make objective decisions about that based on the realities of the physics and the market.”
ATDI has generated a spectrum efficiency tool based on the methodology described in Recommendation ITU-R M.1390 and the seed values in Report ITU-R M.2023. This methodology takes into account various usage and technical parameters. The studies and public consultations that result consider factors such as service, demand, terrain and population density in each region of a country. These aspects are vital when considering cell areas and the voice and data traffic each cell would have to handle.
“It is essential for a regulator to have hard data to base its decisions on,” says Cyprien. “Regulators are always under incredible pressure from the differing companies and politicians and, whatever decision they make about spectrum allocation, somebody is going to be unhappy and is likely to complain loudly. A regulator’s only way of handling these complaints and justifying its decisions is to be able to quote numbers that stand up and I am delighted ATDI is being asked by various authorities to supply those numbers.” A typical example of such a consultation on modelling methods was released by the Jordanian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on November 1st and can be found on this regulator’s consultation page.