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EBU questions future mobile spectrum requirements

A paper published in the EBU Technical Review casts doubt on claims made by the mobile telecommunications industry in the context of preparations for next year’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15).

The Tech Review paper was written the chair and coordinator of the EBU’s Cooperative Terrestrial Networks group – Roland Beutler (SWR) and Darko Ratkaj (EBU) respectively, aims to contribute to a critical examination of the mobile spectrum requirements as put forward by the mobile industry in the Report ITU-R M.2290.

The report identified a number of erroneous elements leading to the conclusion that the mobile spectrum requirements are greatly overestimated. 

Digital TV Europe reports that the authors point out a subsequent study has shown that “spectrum requirements are determined by traffic density in a given area rather than by an aggregated traffic volume” and that “the ITU model overestimates the mobile traffic density by a factor of 100 or more when compared with those which would normally be expected in urban and suburban areas of any developed or developing country in 2020, leading to greatly exaggerated spectrum requirements”. 

Other errors identified include the absence of any consideration of geographical variations and the relationship between mobile networks’ configuration and overall capacity. The report fails to take into account that most audiovisual content is consumed off-network via WiFI and that growth in demand for video is likely to follow this pattern, the authors say.

The conclusions of the ITU Report serve as the basis for the mobile industry’s formal request to WRC-15, concerning the amount of spectrum to be granted for future mobile use. The report says no cost/benefit analysis or impact assessment on the present users of the spectrum has been provided to justify these requirements.

If the WRC-15 decides to satisfy these requirements, the incumbent users of the affected frequency bands will have to be displaced. This, according to the authors or the article, would most certainly have an adverse impact on terrestrial broadcasting, satellite services, the cultural and content industries, and society in general.