Auctions and preparation for WRC ’15 key topics at European Spectrum Management Conference 2015


Real Wireless attended the 10th annual European Spectrum Management Conference last week in Brussels, which is a key event on the spectrum management calendar. The well-attended conference covers the most relevant topics in spectrum management with representation from across the industry including regulators, vendors, operators and industry associations. The conference is worthwhile to gain a sector status update from a broad cross sector of the industry. The two-day event is divided into a number of sessions in which a particular relevant topic is discussed by a panel of industry representatives that varied depending on the discussion.

Day 1

In the first sessions, the panel discussed the future of the 700 MHz band and considered the development of a blueprint for the benefit of users and consumers in Europe. Keynote speeches about the impact of this on spectrum policy at the European Commission, RSPG and BEREC was highlighted. Talks from both the broadcast industry and mobile industry presented their respective cases for using the band, which demonstrated how key stakeholders would be affected by the transition. It was clear in some countries such as Italy, which is a heavy user of the 700 MHz band for DTT viewers and broadcasters, will be affected. In contrast other countries such as the Netherlands would not be so affected and could benefit from a swift move to mobile services.

A session on offloading discussed how Wi-Fi and small cells have helped and will continue to help to ease congestion on macro networks, which now includes LTE-LAA. The session provided an overview of how different methods including satellite can contribute to easing network congestion. However, there was no mention of the difference in costs for these solutions, which would have helped demonstrate which solutions would likely offer the most cost-effective solution.

The second half of the afternoon included breakout sessions on auctions and spectrum awards best practice — which I was allocated — and backhaul. These sessions were interactive and lively particularly the spectrum auction session given that the German multi band spectrum auction was going on in parallel.

Day 2

The second day commenced with a session on WRC ’15 common ground, areas of disagreement and likely outcomes. Presentations from Africa, Europe and China provided a broad overview of the impact each of the key agenda items would have on these regions. Notably there was common agreement and support for 700 MHz allocation for mobile services and some disagreement between sectors in relation to coexistence with mobile and satellite in C-Band amongst others.

The second session on delivering a world-leading mobile ecosystem in Europe was interesting because it covered current issues facing the mobile industry today — namely how mobile operators can overcome declining revenues from subscribers and limited funding for network investment at a time when Europe plans to lead in 5G. There were comparisons with the model used in the US and Canada in which auction proceeds and revenues are still increasing.

The third session discussed innovative technologies and policies to improve spectrum efficiency, which included presentations from regulators, operators and advisors. It covered the different innovative methods currently used for licensing and releasing spectrum. For example in Sweden they no longer apportion spectrum via exclusive licensing, instead focusing on better management and sharing. In the US the FCC described its approach to sharing the 3.5 GHz spectrum for low-power access. Other talks mentioned the challenges and complexities of sharing for PPDR and the satellite/fixed links in the C-Band.

The final session addressed the changing face of spectrum management between 2005 and 2025. A panel responded to statements and questions about where spectrum management we will be in 10 years’ time. This session required audience participation by voting against a set of predetermined questions. The key questions sought to address the issues include the largest influencers in spectrum management and what methodologies will be in place to continue the development of spectrum management. Overall it was felt that in 10 years. the European Commission would have the largest influence and that we would be in a similar position to where we are now but with some changes in approach.

Real Wireless’s view of the conference

Overall the event provided useful interaction with spectrum management colleagues within Europe and beyond. The topics and material were interesting with lively debates and reactions from industry demonstrating that spectrum management is fundamental to the continuous evolution and success of wireless technologies. We look forward to participating in at the 11th annual spectrum management conference and providing support and advice to the sector.

Real Wireless report on key costs in virtualising small cells

Last week at The Small Cells Summit in London, Small Cell Forum announced their release 5.1 document suite which is the first phase of its work on small cell virtualisation. Alongside the Forum’s own work to assess the technical benefits of the virtualising of small cells in cellular networks, Real Wireless examined the key cost elements in deploying and operating small cells in urban areas that would be most sensitive to a move to a more virtualised network architecture. Core to this assessment was understanding both wireline and wireless transport options to small cell sites and considering how these options reduce and costs potentially increase as architectures move from traditional distributed RAN (DRAN) LTE networks today towards classical cloud RAN (CRAN) architectures with remote radio heads and CPRI interfaces at the network extremes with strict latency requirements in the order of 250us and bandwidths in the order of 2.5Gbps.


Key findings from the study were:

  • Our results challenge the traditional view that dark fibre is prohibitively expensive. On a five-year TCO basis dark fibre costs can be commensurate with managed fibre given recent falls in dark fibre prices.
  • Most transport options today can meet bandwidth and latency requirements up to and including a MAC/PHY split with latency requirements of 2 to 6ms if the centralised processing is done at a local macrocell.
  • The CPRI/ORI case of the most challenging virtualisation split considered is supported only by Sub-6 GHz and dark fibre in 2015 but could be supported by all other transport options by as early as 2020 (except copper). However, we note that most wireless options will only support these requirements over short links and with good line of sight and that managed fibre products do need to evolve from packetised services offered today.
  • Across the transport options surveyed, the cost increase for supporting CPRI split beyond a MAC/PHY split was most dramatic for managed fibre and microwave (assuming these will support CPRI by 2020).
  • Across the transport options surveyed, the lowest five-year TCO for a CPRI split was found for Sub-6 GHz with $32k versus a managed fibre CPRI of $95k in 2020.
  • The virtualisation cost, although very sensitive to whether NFV is done at a macrocell or data centre, is still a very small cost in the bigger scheme of the total TCO of a small cell site and has only a marginal impact compared with the transport connection to the small cell site.
  • The power cost is also very small (in the range of $100/year) and has little impact on the overall TCO and has little variation between transport options.

The full report is available at:

European 5G socioeconomic study to evaluate the wider benefits of the next generation of wireless

Real Wireless, Tech4i2, InterDigital Europe and Trinity College Dublin to assess socioeconomic impact of 5G in Europe

London, UK – 9th June 2015 – A new study into the socioeconomic impact of 5G in Europe commenced on May 22nd, led by a group of industry experts and academics.

Undertaken in partnership with the European Commission, the main focus of the study is to develop a better understanding of the potential economic impact of 5G networks in new areas such as health and transport.  Research will examine the potential social benefits of the next generation of wireless technology and identify where 5G will make a difference.

The project will determine the key use cases for 5G, identifying their relative potential in terms of social and economic benefits in the European context. It will test the proposition that 5G can offer specific additional value over 4G to particular vertical user sectors, via work which will be fully informed by and consistent with the 5G PPP initiatives while offering a fresh and independent perspective.

The consortium was selected by the European Commission to bring its independent approach and wide knowledge of both commercial and technical aspects of wireless technology. The study will be carried out over 12 months by a consortium comprising:

  • Applied economic research consultancy Tech4i2
  • Independent wireless advisors Real Wireless
  • Wireless research and development company InterDigital Europe
  • The national telecommunications research centre in Ireland, CONNECT headquartered at Trinity College Dublin

The work will shed light on the journey to future deployment of 5G and its impact on economies across Europe, allowing stakeholders to plan effectively. The study will allow the European Commission to work closely with regulators to plan future policy in areas such as spectrum allocation planning and future market regulation.

“After working with the European Commission on several other key projects, Real Wireless is proud to be an integral part of realising 5G and its impact in Europe,” comments Professor Simon Saunders, Project Director. “The socioeconomic effects of this new generation of wireless will be unprecedented, and understanding these will be crucial in securing Europe as a global leader in 5G. The consortium we have assembled to work on this project offers a uniquely informed yet independent perspective on these issues.”

The study will be informed by inputs from stakeholders via a series of stakeholder hearings which will be held on 22nd September and via a workshop which will be held on 19th October, both in Brussels. To find out more about these events and follow project progress, join the project’s dedicated LinkedIn group at

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About Tech4i2

Tech4i2 is a UK based global applied research consultancy operating in the areas of innovation and inclusion.  Tech4i2 supports local and national governments and global organisations in strategic decision-making and service delivery improvement. The tech4i2 team and network of international experts operating in over 50 countries offers research excellence enabling the provision of incisive advice.

In the last five years Tech4i2 has undertaken more than 60 technology development projects with the European Commission, OECD, IOC and government organisations in Eire, Italy, Poland, Spain, UK and US.

To find out more about Tech4i2’s work on bandwidth and spectrum strategy and policymaking visit the Tech4i2 website.


About Real Wireless
Real Wireless delivers independent, informed and innovative advisory services in every aspect of wireless, from the technical to the commercial. It works with mobile operators, governments, venues, building owners and regulators to bridge technical and commercial domains to help its clients get the best from wireless. With experts in every aspect of wireless and a proven track record, Real Wireless is one of the world’s leading wireless advisory firms.

Its clients include Ofcom, Wembley Stadium, The ECB, BAA, The European Commission, major network operators and many others.

To find out more about Real Wireless and its work in 5G and wireless strategy and policy visit the Real Wireless site.

For more information visit

Twitter: @real_wireless


About InterDigital®
InterDigital develops technologies that are at the core of mobile devices, networks, and services worldwide. We solve many of the industry’s most critical and complex technical challenges, inventing solutions for more efficient broadband networks and a richer multimedia experience years ahead of market deployment. InterDigital has licenses and strategic relationships with many of the world’s leading wireless companies. Founded in 1972, InterDigital is listed on NASDAQ and is included in the S&P MidCap 400® index.

InterDigital is a registered trademark of InterDigital, Inc.

For more information on InterDigital’s work in 5G, please visit the InterDigital vault.


About CONNECT at Trinity College Dublin
CONNECT is Ireland’s national research centre for Future Networks and Communications. We are focussed on three major areas of research; Network-aware services, Service-aware networks and The Internet of Things. CONNECT is headquartered at Trinity College Dublin. It is jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland and by industry. Today, CONNECT engages with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from 10 Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research & development and innovation.