Emerging Spectrum Band Pushed by Industry

Telstra today launched a major promotion of the APT700 spectrum band for 4G networks. The band is already identified for use in markets covering more than two billion people. The new campaign will highlight further the many socio-economic benefits of greater global alignment around this band.

The APT700 band, also known as the Digital Dividend, reuses spectrum made available as a result of the shift from analogue to digital TV and radio channels. Its propagation characteristics are ideal for rural coverage as well as indoor urban penetration, making the business case for broadscale deployment of LTE service coverage far more viable.

These benefits, in combination with widespread adoption of the band in markets across Asia, Latin America and Europe, make the APT700 band a key part of the adoption of LTE across the globe, with networks and device manufacturers able to support one band for a wide range of markets, driving economies of scale and the creation of a global ecosystem.

For example, the recent GSMA report “Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2013” showed that the release of the Digital Dividend band in the Asia Pacific region by 2020 could potentially result in an increase of US$1 trillion in additional GDP; an additional tax revenue growth of US$215 billion; the creation of 1.4 million new businesses; and the creation of 2.7 million new jobs. With Latin America also set to adopt the same band plan as Asia Pacific and the GSMA encouraging Africa to increase adoption of the 700MHz band, the APT band plan could be the biggest harmonised ecosystem the world has known.

In order to accelerate the scale and take-up of this new band, Telstra, the GSMA and the GSA have led the creation of a series of information papers, aimed at providing a comprehensive source of up-to-date information about the rapidly emerging APT700 ecosystem to operators, industry suppliers and regulators alike. These papers will be made available via the GSMA and GSA websites, as well as on a number of vendor sites and user forums. The three organisations will also drive a series of forums to increase international recognition of the APT700 band for 4G use, including a session scheduled to take place in February at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2014.

The information papers highlight the need for appropriate devices to be available to consumers in a timely manner in order to realise the benefits that broadband can bring to urban and rural, developed and emerging economies. With a lag of 18 months on average for devices following spectrum release, the mobile device ecosystem needs to introduce handsets to cover smart to basic functionality by late 2013 to meet demand as the 700MHz APT networks start to rollout. Most notable is the lack of devices addressing the lower end price range, where there is a particular need to connect all to broadband. At present, in many rural areas, particularly in emerging markets, only 2G/3G devices, as well as fixed line broadband, are available as 4G/LTE may be perceived as high-end and expensive.

“Providing a source of reliable and comprehensive information is important for operators to be able to understand the capabilities, scale and timing of emerging technologies such as APT700 for 4G,” said Mike Wright, Executive Director, Networks, Telstra. “Based on information about these bands, operators can build technology and investment roadmaps with increasing certainty, this in turn leads to certainty for network and device vendors, which collectively grows and accelerates the new ecosystem.”

Alan Hadden, President, GSA said “Forums such as the GSA are important to help drive alignment across industry in choosing how to allocate spectrum. Having globally aligned spectrum bands is a great result for end consumers, as these make international roaming easier, and help drive early device availability.”

“The GSMA has lobbied at national, regional and global levels for a number of years for alignment in Digital Dividend spectrum band allocations, on the basis of the economic benefits of 4G networks to a country and the greater economy of scale that an aligned band plan can offer to the industry as a whole,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “The characteristics of APT700 band enable individual operators to achieve high geographic and population coverage levels at much lower cost, whilst a global band strategy based on APT700 will also catalyse international roaming business, enabling customers to cross international boundaries and still receive 4G service.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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