LS telcom: “5G will offer three times spectrum efficiency relative to 4G”


An Interaction with LS telcom | Spotlight on Spectrum Management |

LS telcom, is a global provider of premium solutions for spectrum management, radio monitoring, spectrum data analysis and consulting – the organization is on the forefront of research and development when it comes to delivering innovations around spectrum efficiency solutions.

As part of our spotlight on ‘spectrum management’ Manfred Lebherz, CEO and board member of LS telcom, interacts with Zia Askari from about the evolution of spectrum management and what kind of innovations are being driven by LS telcom

What are the key priorities for LS telcom today?

LS telcom’s key priorities have been and will be to develop and deliver innovative and robust solutions and services addressing the efficient use of radio frequency spectrum and the optimal operation of radio communication services.

We are a provider of spectrum management and radio monitoring systems, including innovative data mining and analysis capabilities. In parallel, spectrum users in all markets rely on our experts and software for the planning and design of optimized radio networks. We plan networks of all generations and technologies, including IoT.

Our priority is the research and development in these areas, in particular in data mining techniques, new direction finding methods and network planning software for upcoming wireless technologies.

Our ultimate aim is, of course, to best serve our customers and to support them in achieving maximum spectrum efficiency.

What are the emerging opportunities towards enabling greater level of spectrum efficiencies for telecoms?

There are two key considerations when determining spectrum efficiency. The first is from the regulatory perspective in which regulators determine how best to make efficient use of the spectrum. This is done by developing appropriate spectrum policy and by automating spectrum management and licensing procedures.

Highly modern IT systems, based on advanced computing techniques, automate and streamline frequency licensing and radio monitoring processes and reduce license attribution cycles. Fully automated and combined enterprise-class spectrum management and monitoring systems are being installed for analysis and comparison of frequency license data with real spectrum usage data. Modern data mining and data analysis capabilities, applied on frequency license data and measured data, will provide maximum efficiency in spectrum attribution and use.

On the policy side, the introduction of new spectrum distribution methods based on economic principles will increase future spectrum efficiency. Spectrum sharing is one particular approach. Regulators have permitted and facilitated sharing for many years by allowing new users to share on a geographical, temporal or spectrum basis with incumbents. However, new techniques such as licensed shared access (LSA) and dynamic spectrum access (DSA) are being trialed and considered for adoption to increase the amount of sharing possible.

The other area for enabling greater levels of spectrum efficiency is from improvements in wireless technology. The evolution of cellular technology in particular has achieved continued improvements in spectrum efficiency.

For example, with each new release of 3GPP’s standards the spectrum efficiency has incrementally improved. This is due to the introduction of new techniques such as MIMO and advanced modulation and coding. Spectrum efficiency in this case is measured in bits per second per Hz (bps/Hz) and the higher the number of bits that can be squeezed into Hz of spectrum, the better the spectrum efficiency.

The emerging technology 5G will deliver a leap in spectrum efficiency. The techniques being developed in 5G will offer around three times the spectrum efficiency relative to 4G. LS telcom has conducted studies, which compare wireless technologies to quantify and assess how to deliver the improved spectrum efficiencies from both a technological and regulatory perspective.

What are some of the big innovations that LS telcom is bringing to the market today?

LS telcom is the global leader in spectrum efficiency. We provide premium solutions for spectrum management, radio monitoring, spectrum data analysis and consulting.

Key to a more efficient use of the spectrum is to know what is supposed to be on-air and what is really on-air at any given time and location, meaning complete spectrum situational awareness. This is why we are the first company to bring spectrum management and radio monitoring data together and analyze the complete data. We apply data mining in spectrum management and radio monitoring, that’s what we call spectrum analytics.

We provide totally integrated spectrum management and radio monitoring systems that provide a unique view on licensed, used and underused spectrum. Monitoring data supports efficient frequency licensing, re-farming and spectrum policymaking.

Spectrum management data is the basis for more precise monitoring “Is the licensed spectrum really in use in a particular area?” Finally, this permanent spectrum inventory, the comparison of license data and measured data, is the basis for the next level/leap in spectrum efficiency.

Our mySPECTRA system, the most advanced IT system for spectrum management, is a fully web-based e-government solution, automating a vast number of process flows for frequency licensing. We also provide database technology for dynamic spectrum access.

Our highly innovative LS OBSERVER radio monitoring system measures and, in addition, records all the radio monitoring data in the remote unit to have it ready to be analyzed whenever needed. The system geo-locates sources of interference, based on recorded data. This means, you can detect the interfering emitter, even when the signal is not on air anymore. In addition, we have developed direction-finding techniques that consider reflection and tell you, if there is more than one interferer. The results of this technique are much more precise compared to conventional techniques.

Our techniques of data mining and analysis leverage huge volumes of spectrum data in a purposeful way. The way we make the data available to spectrum regulators and operators is totally new on the market.

Our SpectrumMap, a cloud-based system, gathers real spectrum usage data from many sources, such as fixed monitoring sites, mobile, handheld and portable devices. Users can zoom in on a map and display the monitoring data in the way they need it.

The data can be visualized for the area of interest by band, channel or service type. In contrast to conventional control units of monitoring stations, system users of the SpectrumMap do not need any knowledge of monitoring stations and do not need to know where the stations are located.

The data can be displayed in many target- and task-oriented ways, so that it can be interpreted by anyone familiar with the spectrum business in the regulator’s or operator’s organization – by management, business analysts, policy makers, engineers and administrative staff.

In addition, LS telcom has unparalleled expertise in spectrum and wireless technology advisory and consulting. We have 25 years of experience working in the wireless and regulatory domain and have developed a keen insight into the emerging developments for radio planning, radio propagation and effective use of measured data.

Our most recent studies have considered demand for spectrum and mobile data, telecommunications infrastructure capability with a view to supporting 5G. We can bring this unique knowledge and insight into technology developments to the wider telecommunications industry.

This is particularly valuable to the vertical sectors such as transport, utilities and healthcare that depend on wireless technology to function properly and depend on experience of experts like LS telcom to support their future technology strategy.

Finally, we provide network planning and optimization software for all wireless technologies. Our software CHIRplus_TC already includes planning functionality for IoT networks.

Spectrum management is a complex realm – as it involves a lot of policy intervention as well as multiple levels of technologies. What are the challenges that you see in front of the industry in this space?

Spectrum management is complex – in particular with the shift towards market mechanisms driving spectrum policy rather than the now ‘old’ command and control approach. The idea of the new spectrum distribution methods is that intervention should be minimized to a point that enables the market determine the most efficient use of spectrum.

This has been driven by economic analysis to determine the value of spectrum to licensees and users. Thus, an efficient market should result in the most valuable use of the spectrum. Nevertheless, there is a requirement for the regulator to support all users of the spectrum and protect those with national safety and security interests in parallel.

Currently global regulators are in the midst of conducting coexistence studies in preparation for next WRC in 2019. The workload is a particular challenge for smaller regulators that have to cover the numerous agenda items proposed. This in turn will need to be translated into national regulatory policy and development of suitable licensing policy.

There is the additional requirement to achieve harmonization with these bands, which is challenging at a global level. Given, the US, Korea and Japan have already decided to deviate from globally recognized bands for 5G and push the use of 28 GHz for example, which most countries in the world have decided not to adopt as a 5G band.

At the same time, technologies and systems have to be implemented, combined and interfaced to support the policy changes and various new distribution methods. With more and more wireless technologies and increasingly dense use of the spectrum, regulators face even greater volumes of data – more radio services, more applications and licenses, more spectrum users.

This will be reflected in new system requirements for spectrum management systems. Regulators will have to define new specifications and workflows to accommodate more data volumes.

The market driven spectrum distribution methods entail great technology challenges, too. Dynamic spectrum access (DSA), for example, relies on dynamic whitespace databases including the whitespace spectrum assignments, registration and authorization as well as interconnection to the spectrum license database and the end user devices.

The market driven spectrum distribution methods and the increasing use of frequencies in the higher bands entail a change in monitoring techniques away from the traditional monitoring based on large stations. The new radio monitoring systems rely on a network of cost-effective small and smart sensors, which measure and record all the measurement data. Greater capacities in computing power allow the storage of terabytes of real measurement network data for network analysis and optimization purposes.

The use of datamining capabilities in spectrum management is just at its beginning…

How can these challenges be addressed? What role is being played by LS telcom in this space?

We see our role as being a facilitator to industry and regulators in tackling the many new challenges that arise in spectrum management with the dawn of 5G, IoT, and new spectrum distribution methods.

We have over 25 years of experience in the industry. Our investment in research & development is reflected in our large market share: customers in over 100 countries worldwide trust in our know-how and in our products. We have established memberships with many industry associations and organizations and cooperate with leading technology universities. We are also a sector member of the ITU-R and ITU-D and are ISO 9001:2015 certified.

This is how we ensure to stay innovative on all fronts: spectrum management systems, intelligent monitoring, spectrum analytics and consulting.

Our most innovative systems are currently being implemented at customers, such as a nationwide LS OBSERVER intelligent radio monitoring, data collection and analysis system, our SpectrumMap for the purposeful display of monitoring data to business analysts and policy makers, as well as the latest mySPECTRA spectrum management solution, including BPMN process automation.

Our radio monitoring and spectrum management systems enable regulators to implement new spectrum distribution methods. Our modern database technologies provide capabilities for licensed and unprotected spectrum access.

At the same time, LS telcom has been playing a direct and active role in providing expertise to organizations and customers that require support with understanding the regulatory implications for changes to frequency allocation. Our experience in licensing policy development for regulators and industry has helped identify the challenges and benefits for new technology roll out.

LS telcom is already assisting governments and regulators with developing their spectrum policy and regulations towards 5G. For example, we have assisted the UK government with a report on 5G infrastructure requirements in the UK, and are working on a project that examines the approaches to spectrum assignment in the EU with a view to the future availability of 5G. As a member of the UK’s 5G Innovation Centre (at the University of Surrey), we are at the leading edge of 5G developments.

LS telcom’s consulting team guides you through the jungle of new licensing, access and connectivity methods as well as current and future technologies. We help you set up a technical and legal environment, in favor of prospering 5G and greatest economic efficiency.

Besides our drive for innovation, we set great store by service and maintenance and accompanying our customers all along their striving for spectrum efficiency.

As we move towards 5G era – how do you look at the future of spectrum management?

Spectrum management will need to evolve so that there is sufficient regulatory certainty thus providing a stable environment for operators to be able to invest in new spectrum, new technology and network infrastructure.

Spectrum management systems will have to support different access methods and frequency allocation will be based on real spectrum usage data. This will be possible through wide-area monitoring networks. Spectrum management and radio monitoring cannot be seen as different entities anymore, but have to be well connected.

There will be greater volumes of data to manage – more license types, more wireless technologies, more infrastructure, more wireless users and a myriad of connected objects – and the use of data mining and data analyses of spectrum data will play an even greater role than today to make sure spectrum is continuously used in the most efficient way.

New authorization models will come into play given the new mmWave frequency bands and new approaches as to how these will be authorized and assigned.

There will be a fresh approach and thinking towards radio modeling in the mmWave bands. This is because the variations at these frequencies can be significant and over short distances can impact the quality of service that will be provided by operators. We have seen a study done by Ordnance Survey for the UK government, which has looked at 3D mapping to determine coverage in mmWave spectrum. However, this was a proof of concept demonstrator, and the challenge will be when it comes to commercialization and the computing power needed to process the vast quantities of data.

What kind of growth are you expecting from the market and where will this growth be coming from?

The most significant development activity is occurring in 5G and Internet of Things (IoT). In particular, the vertical sector will be an area of growth in wireless. There are new devices appearing on the market all the time that have been enabled from the evolution in regulations but mainly due to research, development and investment from tech companies large and small.

There will be developments in LTE-Advanced, LTE-LAA, evolution of Wi-Fi with commercial deployments of 802.11ad, IoT in particular NB-IOT from the mobile operators with China making a big push. In Europe, 5G seems to be the big focus, but also shifts in solutions for emergency service (move from TETRA to LTE as in the UK) and rail (new technology to replace GSM-R and on board connectivity) will see a change in the near future.