Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) | Adoption Barriers
Dr. Evangelo Damigos; PhD | Head of Digital Futures Research Desk
- Connected Intelligence
- Sustainable Growth and Tech Trends
- Emerging Technologies
Publication | Update: Sep 2020
While rapid progress is being made in the technology for dynamic spectrum access (DSA) radio systems. However, the structure and dynamics of the wireless services market must also evolve for DSA to succeed.
According to Dalibor Vavruska, Citi’s Global Head of Digital Connectivity Strategy, DSA is still in early stages of its deployment, and subject to various uncertainties and barriers:
Security, execution, cost, and technology-availability issues: Any spectrum sharing naturally raises interference and hence communications-quality and security risks. DSA is designed to tackle these. That said, any DSA system will naturally face risks and technological challenges and incur costs.
Experience from the first major deployments such as CBRS will be crucial for the technology to gain momentum and hence scale economies in the equipment market.
Opposition against ending wireless industry’s spectrum ‘privileges’: As we said earlier, the wireless industry was essentially designed around exclusive use of spectrum. Hence, by default it has become the key owner of licensed spectrum. We therefore expect the industry to push for continued exclusive spectrum allocation on the grounds of quality, security, network investment incentives, etc. The industry is also likely to aim at taking ‘ownership’ of the spectrum debate, possibly arguing that spectrum sharing is not a new idea and promoting its own sharing models. Equipment vendors may also want to show restraint from pushing a technology with the potential to disrupt businesses of their key customers.
Need for major policy changes leading to possibly lower national budget revenues from spectrum sales: DSA would require a major departure from the existing model of exclusive spectrum allocation. It may meaningfully increase the supply of spectrum capacity, prevent wireless operators from hoarding spectrum to avoid disruption, and allocate spectrum to smaller players at low cost. Therefore, it may dilute the revenues a government can expect to raise from spectrum auctions. This may pose a challenge of finding other ways to raise tax revenue from TMT.
4. Dependence on a strong push by the big tech OTTs: Changing the established policies and the wireless industry may require strong economic reasons and backing. We think that the big tech OTTs (Over The Top Companies) will in the medium term have the strongest interest to see DSA thriving. However, the OTTs have so far shown restraint from openly suggesting sweeping changes in the wireless market. While we think that DSA will play a role in future-shaping the relationship between the OTTs and the wireless industry, there is a range of possible outcomes. We would not rule out the scope for some negotiated outcome between the wireless industry and the OTTs in an attempt to avert the most disruptive scenarios.
One of the key challenges in dynamic spectrum sharing is the effective management of spectrum resources. It requires advancements in allocation and assignment mechanisms that not only facilitate spectrum sharing, but also support measurement and dynamic assessment of the costs and benefits of sharing.
Source: “An Overview of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing: Ongoing Initiatives, Challenges, and a Roadmap for Future Research,” Sudeep Bhattarai, Jung-Min “Jerry” Park, Bo Gao, Kaigui Bian, William Lehr
The future needs to embrace more dynamic models of spectrum sharing, or Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA), in which spectrum may be shared along multiple technical dimensions (e.g., frequency, time, space, and direction) and across multiple usage contexts (e.g., commercial / government, legacy / new, licensed / unlicensed, or multiple classes of spectrum rights holders).
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