Commodity Wireless Technologies and Radio Regulations


Technology Trend Analysis

With the trade press promoting every new idea as a potentially “disruptive technology” or threat to vested interests, an unbiased analysis is a valuable asset for any company that operates in the wireless technology space. Examples are the hypes around UWB, WiMax and Mesh Networking and Cognitive Radio; the latest is 5G. These siphon off a lot of energy at boardroom meetings and international commissions that could have been spent more usefully on real issues like how to facilitate the sharing of non-exclusive spectrum resources. The jury is still out on 5G but none of the other technologies proved a breakthrough; they all have found niche markets.
On the other hand, there are developments that may well prove more effective in creating a market. In the vehicle automation space there are ITS-G5 based on IEEE802.11 technology as well as its LTE based competitor. In the IoT space there are not only LTE variants and other low power long range data collection systems – known as networked SRDs in Europe – but also evolutions of Bluetooth and ZigBee.

Wireless Technology Standards

Standards play a major role in shaping new wireless technologies. A large number of industry fora, e.g. Technical Committees IEEE802.11, the Bluetooth SIG and the ZigBee Alliance, develop such standards and they are a driving force in the development of new applications and markets.
Specific for Europe are the harmonised standards developed by ETSI. These standards define a minimum set of requirements that products have to meet in order to have unrestricted access to the EU market. However, the organizational complexity and cost of participation is frequently a barrier for innovative companies developing new products.
SpectrumConsult offers its clients evaluation and/or representative participation in the various organizations and committees that standardize wireless technologies. Policy analysis and technical advise can be developed in an advisory role and/or worked out in cooperation with client experts as required and always guided by the client’s business objectives.

Regulatory Policy Analysis and Advice

Spectrumconsult specializes in the regulatory and standardization of commodity wireless technologies. Both are complex subjects with different impact on wireless technologies that operate in license free, shared spectrum. Spectrum regulations provide the basis for spectrum usage, standards describe the technical properties of radio equipment. Like many laws and legal rulings, radio regulations change slowly and tend to trail the fast pace of radio technology development.
The EU’s rules and technical requirements imposed in the name of market harmonisation, on products and services, get ever more complex and detailed. Part of the reason is the complex of institutional arrangements: a number of committees of the EU, of the CEPT and ETSI work on regulation and its translation into technical compliance criteria laid down in harmonised standards. These contain technical requirements that typically favour the technological status quo at the expense of innovation. The EC’s Radio Equipment Directive that came into effect this year, notwithstanding good intentions, does not change that, on the contrary. Understanding this subject is a prerequisite for successfully entering the EU market with new products.
Radio spectrum regulations provide the basis for all spectrum use. Current and planned allocations of license exempt and lightly licensed spectrum cover more than 1000 MHz spread over frequencies ranging from 400 MHz to 71GHz. This spectrum is subject to regulations that limit emission levels and in some cases, require specific device behaviours such as listen-before-talk or duty cycle limitations. For some frequencies, registration of devices is required. Because these rules are not specific, they support a large variety of applications. However, as new applications are conceived, the opportunities and limits imposed by current regulations must be understood so as to avoid unnecessary restrictions on products. The technical, regulatory and commercial difficulties related to the use of license exempt, shared spectrum require expertise to recognize and resolve before they become a business issue. Business considerations may require influencing in regulatory policy making. This requires participation in regulatory Committees, Project Teams and Working Groups.
SpectrumConsult provides consultancy on radio regulations and their applications to commodity technologies. This includes regulatory impact analysis and advice as well as representative participation in the various technical project teams operating under the aegis of the ECC, the Electronic Communications Committee.