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Dynamic Spectrum Access: The Drivers and Barriers

The regulatory approach to spectrum management at a national level must aim to balance the merits of both the individual and common usage modes of spectrum use.

Most countries will require up to 500MHz of new spectrum bandwidth to accommodate growth in mobile broadband applications in the next ten years. One of the measures that operators, regulators and others in the mobile industry are discussing is dynamic spectrum access (DSA) - the allocation and use of spectrum as needed on a shared basis between multiple users. In this report, we consider how to implement DSA, and the benefits and challenges of doing so.

This Report provides an examination of:

  • software-defined radio
  • cognitive radio
  • Licensed Shared Access
  • licence-exempt shared access for the secondary user (that is, white space).

We also report on the challenges that are hindering the implementation of DSA schemes, including:

  • technical barriers
  • regulatory barriers
  • operator objections.

About the author

Morgan Mullooly, Research Analyst.

Morgan Mullooly contributes research for the Spectrum and Wireless Networks research programmes. His primary areas of specialisation include spectrum valuation, LTE strategies and white space technologies. Morgan has a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics.

Table of Contents

1. Executive summary

2. Recommendations

3. Introduction to DSA

  • 3.1. WhatisDSA?
  • 3.2. The goal of DSA is linked to the concept of cognitive radio
  • 3.3. Shared access requiring licensing for all users
  • 3.4. Licence-exempt shared access for the secondary user
  • 3.5. Which spectrum bands are suitable for DSA?

4. What are the drivers of DSA?

  • 4.1. The need for more spectrum
  • 4.2. The emergence of unique demands
  • 4.3. The current spectrum management regimen is too restrictive

5. What is enabling a shift towards implementing DSA?

  • 5.1. Operators have become more open to mutual technical co-operation and sharing
  • 5.2. The policy environment is warming to more-innovative methods of spectrum management involving spectrum sharing

6. What are the barriers to DSA?

  • 6.1. Technical barriers
  • 6.2. Barriers to the regulatory process
  • 6.3. Barriers to MNOs supporting DSA initiatives

7. Recent developments

About the author

About Analysys Mason

Research from Analysys Mason

Consulting from Analysys Mason

List of figures

  • Figure 1.1: Obstacles preventing widespread take-up of dynamic spectrum access schemes
  • Figure 3.1: The range of spectrum management approaches
  • Figure 4.2: Methods for assigning spectrum, USA, 1940s - present
  • Figure 7.1: Developments relating to DSA and spectrum sharing, 1992 - 2025
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