Data explosion exposes spectrum limits

Joseph Waring & John C. Tanner
24 Jun 2011

Operators are struggling to keep up with the data explosion by improving the capability of their networks. The question is how can they continue to match supply and demand and provide quality service when access to suitable spectrum is limited.

Alex Orange, director of government affairs for the UMTS Forum, said on Thursday at the CommunicAsia2011 Summit that matching supply and demand is a challenge for any industry, but for mobile operators facing exponential data traffic growth it is particularly difficult.

Asia Pacific has some 219 million mobile broadband subs. Orange said current forecasts see a 400% jump in the number of mobile broadband connections in the region by 2015. But he noted that past growth projections have tended to underestimate the true demand – by as much as sevenfold.

“The way to solve or meet this challenge is not on a bilateralbasic but to get together as an industry and deliver a single message to the regulators. It really is about getting the most bang for your buck,” Orange said.

He said the 700-MHz band, also know as the digital dividend band, represents a unique opportunity for Asia Pacific to lead the world. He noted that the band has a very efficient spectrum arrangement.

“This band offers APT [Asia Pacific Telecommunity] the opportunity to harmonize across the region and perhaps drive some of the new innovations going


Mark Hukill, senior advisor for the Pacific Telecommunications Council, also said that spectrum will be a major challenge as mobility becomes the norm for communications connectivity, as digital dividend spectrum from broadcasters won’t be available for several years in some countries, while in others it’s controlled by government and military agencies that won’t give it up easily.

In other words, he warned in a separate session on convergence, that despite dream industry scenarios of seamless mobile connectivity everywhere connecting everything, “We may not have the spectrum to do what we want to do, not until government policy changes to facilitate that, and that may not happen for another ten years.”


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