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Apr 26, 2010

Unlicensed access to television broadcasting spectrum in Europe

Digital Europe. The previous post about the unlicensed access to TV-band in the US was finished with the question What can Europe learn from this?. I will try here to answer this question by summarizing the current state of the European regulations for unlicensed access to the white spaces in the television band.

The Open Spectrum Alliance is a coalition of companies, organizations and individuals founded in May 2009 in order to push the unlicensed access to the spectral resources. They actively collaborate with the CEPT's Electronic Communications Committee working group designated to study the technical and operational requirements for the operation of cognitive radio systems.

The SE43 working group is currently preparing a document defining the requirements for the operation of cognitive radio systems in the white spaces of the band 470-790 MHz. This draft describes the protection requirements of terrestrial broadcasting (detection thresholds, hidden node margins...) together with the architecture to achieve it (spectral sensing, geolocation database, combination of sensing and geolocation...).

That is, they are working in a document equivalent to the rules approved by the FCC in November 2008 for the regulation of devices using white spaces of the TV band in the USA. While the FCC had been examining this issue for six years prior to the elaboration of the document, the European version could be expected to be ready at the end of the year. That is, the document would be developed in three years in part by using the experience obtained from the american pioneering work.

In order that the european ruleset comes into play further steps are needed due to the more complex hierarchy in the EU. Therefore we could say that the european regulatory process presents a delay of 3 years with respect to the USA's framework for cognitive radio, which already defined proposals for the geolocation databases and cognitive radio data networks tests.

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