The 18th European Spectrum Management Conference took place from 6 – 7 June 2023 at Sparks in Brussels.
Across 2 days attendees had the opportunity to be involved in discussions on the key spectrum topics for the region and beyond, through interactive sessions, networking opportunities, an exhibition area and much more.
The conference is part of The Global Spectrum Series. The world’s largest collection of regional spectrum policy conferences.
The first Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) has been instrumental in shaping spectrum policy and thinking in Europe since its launch in 2012. Now, more than 10 years on, a new RSPP is being prepared to update and revise the guidelines and provide a spectrum framework for Europe that is designed for the 5G era and beyond. An impact assessment study and a public consultation are expected to have been launched by the time of this event, with the Commission aiming to deliver their proposal for the RSPP by the end of September this year. This session will explore what the key aims and objectives of the RSPP should be. Taking into account the extensive technological and regulatory developments that have been seen over the past decade, it will look at what updates and adjustments need to be made in order to deliver a forward-looking roadmap for spectrum in Europe that is suitable for today’s 5G society and beyond.
The global space and satellite sector is evolving massively with a large number of innovative new technologies, services and business models emerging. One area that is already seeing significant interest is direct-to-device satellite connectivity – satellite and mobile operators partnering to connect satellites directly to phones or IoT sensors. Whilst the potential of this is huge, it also raises a number of regulatory and technical challenges, not least when considering the best way to meet the spectrum requirements of these new hybrid networks. Two distinct approaches are emerging – some companies are looking to use spectrum already allocated for mobile satellite services, whilst others are looking to re-use mobile spectrum bands that they would access through partnerships with MNOs. This session will look at the benefits, drawbacks and challenges associated with these two approaches, as well as looking more broadly at the hurdles that will need to be overcome in order to deliver on the potential of this exciting new technology.
Spectrum sharing provides a complementary approach to exclusive licensing and, if planned correctly, can increase the efficiency of spectrum and open up access to bandwidth for emerging services, including in bands that cannot be cleared of incumbent services. To date however, whilst there has been much talk in Europe about spectrum sharing, we are behind both the US and Asia when it comes to implementing concrete sharing solutions, and have arguably had difficulty in identifying the best technical and economic models to use. This session will examine the approach to spectrum sharing that is being seen in Europe, at how this compares to that taken in other regions, and whether there is an argument that we should be taking a more adventurous approach. It will look at the different sharing models and environments that are available and examine current attitudes to sharing across member states and different industry sectors. By identifying some of the factors that have delayed the implementation of sharing to date, it will look at what needs to be done to address the challenges and move forward the development of a wide-scale harmonised shared spectrum regime across Europe.
The DTT broadcast, PMSE and mobile communities all see access to spectrum in the lower UHF (470—694 MHz) band as essential for their future connectivity needs. Work is currently ongoing at an RSPG level on the long-term future of the band beyond 2030, and a number of reports have also recently been released focussing on the same issues. Looking at the technological, service and market developments and likely future trends that can be expected both in these sectors and in spectrum databases and equipment over the next few years, this session will explore the different future scenarios that are being considered for the band, and more broadly at its likely long term future beyond 2030.
One of the most discussed spectrum issues at the moment is the future of the upper 6GHz (6425- 7125 MHz) band, with stakeholders arguing strongly for it to be made available for either 5G mobile use or for licence-exempt (Wi-Fi, 5G NR-U) use. Looking at the current situation globally, some countries (e.g. US, Brazil, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia) have already allocated the band for unlicenced use; China has recently announced that it will licence at least part of the band for IMT; and many others are keeping their decisions on hold whilst waiting for the outcome from WRC-23 discussions. In Europe too, a number of different perspectives are being seen across member states, with the future use of the band not yet clear. As we move towards the vital WRC-23 in which key decisions are going to be taken for the future of the band, and against the backdrop of the RSPG an opinion and recommendations on the future of the band that were released at the end of last year, this session will look at the different visions that are taking shape in Europe (at both a regional and Member State level), and at the perspectives that are being seen around the rest of the world. With such varied approaches being seen, it will explore the extent to which a consensus on its use is likely to be reached (licenced, unlicenced or a solution that involves some element of sharing between the two), and at what is the best use of the key spectrum in the band for the long-term future of consumers and societies everywhere.
In Europe, the 5.9GHz band has been primarily allocated for use by Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), such as connected and autonomous vehicles, and to support the deployment of safe and efficient rail systems. There are 2 competing standards for road ITS – G5-ITS and Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, and with industry split in their support for these, no consensus has been reached on how to use the band in an interoperable way and therefore only very limited rollout has been seen. A similar situation in the US and Canada has seen moves towards reallocating the spectrum for unlicenced / WiFi use, given its position immediately below the 6Ghz band. This session will look at the current situation in the band and the work that is being done to find a consensus on the ITS standard in the band. Against this backdrop, it will explore the long-term future of the band, and at the best way forward to balance the competing demands for this valuable spectrum.
This conference takes place in between the final 2 CEPT preparatory meetings for WRC-23, and as we enter this last period of preparation, most regional positions are now starting to become clear. This session will provide the opportunity to look at the areas in which European positions have now been fixed, and at those that are still under consideration. Focussing on key agenda items such as AI 1.2, 1.5 and 10, it will hear from both policymakers and industry stakeholders on the extent to which they support the common positions that are emerging on different agenda items, and on the work that they feel still needs to be done.
There has been growing momentum in Europe to use the 3.8-4.2GHz band for local private networks. A number of member states have already made spectrum in the band available on a local basis, and at a European level, CEPT is working on technical conditions to harmonise the band for local use, with the decision taken to use parameters seen in the UK and Norwegian approaches as a starting point for this. The band is also used by a number of incumbent users however, including fixed link and satellite services; and in addition to this, adjacent spectrum is used for broadband services below 3.8GHz, and by key services such as radio altimeters above 4.2GHz. This session will look at the work that is being done to explore the compatibility of local private networks with all these other key services, and the technical conditions that would need to be in place to ensure protection against interference. It will explore what a decision of this kind and the introduction of strict power level limits would mean for the long-term future of the band, and the extent to which it helps to meet the objective of obtaining the best socio-economic value from these key frequencies.