Although wireless network operators traditionally have used licensed spectrum available exclusively for their own use, that kind of spectrum is becoming scarce, as evidenced by the current spectrum auction that’s been going on for weeks – much longer than expected.
The new reality is that the wireless industry likely will need to find ways of sharing scarce spectrum in the future. For example, the IEEE has created a group that will explore ways of enabling wireless networks operating in unlicensed frequency bands to coexist independent of radio technology. The IEEE 802.19 Coexistence in Unlicensed frequency Bands (CUB) study group will leverage many years of IEEE research into the issue, according to a press release.
Easily accessible and low-cost unlicensed wireless spectrum makes a $62 billion a year contribution to the U.S. economy, according to a June 2014 report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). It’s increasingly being used for a wide variety of wireless applications, from home and office Wi-Fi networks to home entertainment, security and energy management.
Wireless equipment manufacturers and service providers have been pushing the FCC to open up more unlicensed WiFi spectrum to market participants. The FCC has proposed a three-tier plan for opening up unlicensed spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. Globalstar has proposed a private Wi-Fi network in the 2.4 GHz band.
Some frequencies in the 600 MHz frequency band currently used by TV broadcasters are also available for unlicensed use in areas where there are no local TV stations at those frequencies.
IEEE Unlicensed Frequency Coexistence Plans
Developing methods for unlicensed frequency band transmissions to coexist would make for more efficient use of unlicensed spectrum and would help assure the integrity of signals traveling across these bands. As IEEE explains, the CUB Study Group “was established to address the growing demand for mitigating interference over unlicensed frequency bands” stemming from the use of various types of wireless telecoms technology, including IEEE 802 wireless standards and others.
IEEE lays out the CUB Study Group’s main aims as follows:
- Develop coexistence scenarios and use cases;
- Define necessary information to be exchanged between different; systems to mitigate coexistence problems;
- Study how to exchange messages among entities;
- Study methods for improving coexistence among dissimilar wireless systems in unlicensed bands;
- Demonstrate potential coexistence improvements from shared information;
- Investigate other issues related to enhancing coexistence in unlicensed bands.
Participants also are being recruited for the development of CUB wireless standards. More information regarding the IEEE 802.19 Wireless Coexistence Working Group and IEEE 802.19 CUB Study Group are available on IEEE’s website.