The Emperor's New Clothes

This blog is about European spectrum harmonization for BB-PPDR. ECC has created a very nice Report 218 about a year ago with proposals for frequency arrangement for BB-PPDR in CEPT countries. The final report proposes a concept called "flexible harmonization" based on three major elements:
  • common technical standard (i.e. LTE and its evolutions); 
  • national flexibility to decide how much spectrum and which specific frequency ranges should be designated for BB-PPDR networks within harmonised tuning range(s), according to national needs; 
  • national choice of the most suitable implementation model (either dedicated, commercial or hybrid).
If we examine the document in more detail, we find various frequency ranges and bands proposed for BB-PPDR. The report has identified following candidates within 400 MHz and 700 MHz ranges:
  • UL 410-420 MHz, DL 420-430 MHz (tuning range)
  • UL 450-460 MHz, DL 460-470 MHz (tuning range)
  • UL 703-713 MHz, DL 758-768 MHz (2 x 10 MHz)
  • UL 698-703 MHz, DL 753-758 MHz (2 x 5 MHz)
  • UL 733-736 MHz, DL 788-791 MHz (2 x 3 MHz)
  • UL 698-708 MHz, DL 753-763 MHz (2 x 10 MHz)
If we compare the above list to LTE bands that are actually standardized, we can conclude that there is only Band 31 on 450 MHz (to be exact UL 452,5-457,5 MHz, DL 462,5-467,5 MHz) and on 700 MHz we have Band 68 (UL 698-728 MHz, DL 753-783 MHz) and Band 28 (UL 703-748 MHz, DL 758-803 MHz). These are just 3GPP specifications. The critical thing is to check the ecosystem. Are there network infrastructure products, are there mobile devices, are there mobile device components especially chipsets and filters?

The reality is that B31 is still emerging with device ecosystem including some handsets but mostly just data modems. And B68 does not have anything yet! On the other hand B28 (both lower and upper duplexer) is well supported. The reason is that B28 is commercially used band. B31 license owners are often small data only operators instead of the major mobile operators. Therefore B31 progress has been somewhat slow. But B68 is currently intended exclusively for BB-PPDR with existing allocation for example in France. B68 is not very attractive taking into account typically very low number of PPDR users compared.

This is not all. According to ECC Decision 16(02), CEPT administrations are wishing to introduce additional spectrum for BB-PPDR.
  • UL 450,5-456 MHz, DL 460,5-466 MHz
  • UL 452-457,5 MHz, DL 462-467,5 MHz
You can notice that these new band proposals are mostly overlapping with B31, but it just happens to be so that big countries like Germany and Spain are not fully aligned with B31. By the way, these new bands are now proposed as new work item in 3GPP.
  • Europe, how many bands and frequency options do we need for "harmonization"?
  • Europe, how can "harmonization" be also "flexible" allowing each country to decide which specific frequency ranges should be designated for BB-PPDR?
  • Europe, congratulations. You have agreed on one thing - to use LTE for BB-PPDR.
UK has decided to deploy BB-PPDR services by using commercially existing bands. I have heard some Brexit jokes, but did UK actually made one sensible decision not to follow CEPT proposals?

I'm desperately waiting an innocent child crying loudly: "But Europe has no BB-PPDR spectrum harmonization at all!"


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