One way to speed up advanced network deployments

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While I haven’t had much chance to start on another book, I’ve been increasing the amount of telecommunications feeds to my information stream. It’s stimulating questions and areas of inquiry for me to be thinking about as I look to start classes in the fall. I’ve requested CC8940 – The Political Economy of Communication and Culture and should be joined by at least one friendly face.

While reading, I came across this story from Engadget, noting Ericsson is testing an LTE-Advanced network achieving mobile 1Gbps downloads in trials.

Not only is Ericsson cranking up the speed, it’s also endeavoring to make the new network more efficient by offering 8×8 MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) functionality, which enables data to be retrieved and sent faster regardless of network congestion.

Of course, these test results are taking advantage of 60MHz available bandwidth, as opposed to the global max of 20MHz and the US standard of 10.

The last spectrum auction saw 2x10MHz and 2x5MHz blocks portioned out in the AWS band, so looking at so much bigger blocks might be too radical for the current licensing regime. When I met with an Industry Canada executive earlier this year, his opinion (in general, obviously we didn’t discuss this) was that more efficient use of spectrum was one of the key ways we were going to deal with the increasing demand for mobile data. And engineers may be able to work their magic to decrease the bandwidth needed for advanced LTE networks.

Exploring bigger blocks, an important first inquiry would be can we auction off at least two 60MHz blocks? If TELUS and Bell could pair up to deploy their HSPA+ networks, could Industry Canada have two consortiums build out infrastructure with regulated wholesale access for members and VMNOs? Two networks allows some market competition to remain and may be a backdoor to get larger amounts of foreign investment (and potentially engineering know-how) without having to first change the Telecommunications Act. If we can only do one 60MHz block with smaller sole-license blocks, how will that impact the Canadian wireless market?

I don’t know if any of this is actually feasible within existing regulatory practices or whether the major incumbents would even consider it but it’s certainly food for thought, as we’re only just now rolling out Canada’s first 4G-Lite network with Roger’s recent launch in Ottawa.