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RF guru: Break services, tech, spectrum connections

Posted: 15 Oct 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless spectrum  cellular technology  CDMA2000 

While technologists open the door for new applications, politics have to eliminate the obstacles slowing down the progress, warned wireless expert Jacques Achard during a speech at the European Microwave Conference.

In his keynote speech, Achard of Alcatel-Lucent's Wireless CTO office and chairman of the 3GPP TSG GERAN WG1, gave an impression where wireless cellular technology will be in several years. Despite mounting challenges such as a strict spectrum regulation in Europe and different spectrum allocations across the European countries, he drew a promising picture of seemingly unlimited bandwidth and connectivity.

Against the background that spectrums allocated presently are connected to certain services and technologies, he called for strict technology neutral allocations for the future. "As a result of the rigid regulatory framework, the usage of a particular band in EU countries is often restricted to a given service supported by a given technology, for instance, GSM," he said. While this scheme proved to be very successful in the past, it also has drawbacks: "Some parts of the spectrum are frozen and unusable for years."

Paradigm shift
It is time to break up these connections between services, technologies and spectrum, Achard said. The globalization of the exchange equipment and the ever-shorter industrial lifecycles collide with this kind of connections, he said, adding that there are more reasons to change the paradigm now. Political willingness to foster innovation, the convergence of services and the availability of reconfigurable, cognitive radio front ends could help alter the situation.

Achard propagated more flexible ways to handle the spectrums. Neutrality with respect to technology as well as to services would help to improve the situation. He added the market should determine the terms of future frequency allocations and not political decisions. "We need regulation by the market, and this is what the EU commission favours," the wireless guru said.

He also allowed a look into the crystal ball of future wireless developments, without providing exact timelines for the introduction. While CDMA2000 has brought Web browsing, optimised VoIP and video telephony to mobile networks, the next step to follow soon will be Ultra Mobile Broadband, enabling enhanced video telephony based on the OFDM modulation scheme. For UMTS, LTE will be the growth path. WiMAX 16m would offer data rates of up to 1GBps for nomadic use and up to 100MBps for mobile users. Even for the GSM world, named target bandwidths of 1GBps through the GERAN evolutions, enabled by receiver diversity, reductions in latency, turbo codes and several other achievements.

These giant bandwidths will enable a wealth of new applications—from advanced gaming using hologram-based 3D displays to e-commerce, multimedia conferencing, wireless net meetings and location based services. "But the main requirement to get there is spectrum flexibility and spectrum efficiency," Achard added.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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