By Paul Rasmussen

Spectrum becoming an infinite resource, argues Cisco

The development of better technologies together with the ability of the telecoms industry to merge unlike radio systems could lead to the view that radio spectrum is an infinite resource, maintains Humberto La Roche, CTO for Cisco’s mass-scale infrastructure group.

“As we learn to construct applications that are more spectrally efficient, then we move closer to the view that spectrum resource is only limited by our ability to reuse it. We do not yet know what the limits of spectral efficiency or spectral reuse are, and we are early days in automating spectrum sharing. Over the long term, therefore, there is every reason to be optimistic that we have a lot of room for growth in our use of radio spectrum, even as we confront and mitigate short term issues of capacity,” he said.

Both IEEE 802.11 and 3GPP systems are excellent examples of how technology is evolving to extract more from the frequencies we depend on in our connected societies, according to La Roche. “Technology evolution will not converge these two main ecosystems but we do anticipate common credentials for access, intelligent path selection and seamless cross-domain mobility all while some use cases will overlap while each ecosystem will continue to have their own optimal domain.”

While accepting ITU-R remains very relevant, in many cases regulators need to move beyond allocation silos to shared spectrum and even dynamically shared spectrum to meet demand, says La Roche.

“While the old spectrum framework was ‘use it up, then ask for more’, new rules for vertical use cases should be considered, including database controllers for spectrum access. To be sure, dedicated licensed spectrum is a powerful tool and it can be shared at the systems level as network slicing progresses towards the RAN. Slicing technology should be fostered and promoted.”