Dynamic Spectrum Sharing: A first step on the 5G ladder

5G is an eye wateringly expensive investment for telcos – but what if there was a way to launch 5G with nothing more than a mere software update? We look at the opportunities and limitations of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
Spectrum Sharing, 4G, 5G, Spectrum, Telecoms

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As mobile network operators around the world look to rollout their initial 5G offerings, there are numerous obstacles to overcome.

Firstly, demand for 5G in the near term is unlikely to justify operators being able to charge much of a premium for the service, leaving them with a serious disparity between their gargantuan 5G investments and the comparatively meagre returns.

Telcos will undoubtedly have abundant opportunity to milk the 5G cash cow further down the line, once standalone 5G makes network slicing a viable proposition. In the short term however, 5G is going to be something of an expensive PR exercise for operators.

Secondly, some operators around the world have been constrained by their government’s reticence to allocate sufficient spectrum resources for 5G. Here in the GCC, governments and regulators have been extremely proactive about making spectrum available, and the region has reaped the benefits of this foresight by becoming one of the world leaders for 5G. Plenty of markets in Europe, Asia and even the US have not been so lucky.

Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, the subject of this month’s special report, provides operators with a genuine opportunity to launch their initial 5G services with drastically reduced capital expenditure requirements. Instead of investing in next generation network hardware, operators can simply update their software and use low band, LTE spectrum to provide both LTE and 5G services. Sure, it’s a stop gap solution and one that is unlikely to be a major force for the medium to long term, but it can offer telcos a cost effective way to get a first foothold on the 5G ladder.  

Last month Vodafone launched 5G services in The Netherlands using Ericsson’s Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology. In doing so, it scored a major PR win, by becoming the first mobile network operator to launch 5G services in the country. Vodafone used its existing 1,800 MHz spectrum coupled with Ericsson’s DSS technology to offer its 5G subscribers download speeds of up to 1 Gbps and 30 per cent lower latency than on its LTE service. 

As governments around the world free up spectrum for release, particularly in the mid band and mmWave blocks, 5G network performance will move far beyond current performance levels. In the future, we will be able to expect, even demand, the multi gigabit per second download speeds and ultra-low latency levels that we were promised in the plethora of 5G sales pitches. Until then, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing offers operators a cost effective way to deliver very good connectivity. Particularly in the current climate of working, learning and entertaining from home, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing could be the best option for operators looking to boost their current network performance levels.

Check out the June issue of CommsMEA for our Special Report on the potential of Spectrum Sharing. 

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