Wireless Innovation Forum Top Ten Most Wanted Innovations

Innovation #10: Flexible Regulatory Framework for Temporary, Cooperative and Opportunistic Access

10.1 Executive Summary

A new flexible regulatory framework is needed to enable the operation of advanced wireless devices and systems that meet certain reconfigurability requirements across multiple bands and wireless services on a temporary, cooperative or opportunistic basis.

10.2 Applications

This innovation will lower regulatory barriers to entry and promote technological innovation through easier and faster access to spectrum, enabling incumbents and entrepreneurs to pursue new business opportunities throughout the wireless value chain.

10.3 Description

Traditional international and domestic regulatory frameworks governing access to RF spectrum are based on "static" frequency allocations and assignments. While emerging multi-band, cognitive radio and dynamic spectrum access technologies are being introduced under modern flexible, market-based regulatory policies in some countries, a new supplemental framework that can overlay existing schemes will further enable innovative technologies, and such technologies can enable innovative frameworks. This new flexible regulatory framework would apply across multiple bands and wireless services. The rules would authorize advanced wireless devices and systems that meet certain reconfigurability requirements to operate across a wide swath of frequency bands on a temporary, cooperative or opportunistic basis depending on the nature and characteristics of the existing authorized systems, to the extent there are any. The following example is derived from SSC's Comments and Reply Comments filed by Shared Spectrum Company (SSC) in ET Docket No. 10-237 (Feb. and Mar. 2011):

  • Under the proposed policy-based framework, regulators would require eligible RF devices to be reconfigurable to prevent spectrum squatters and ensure that the devices can be updated (or even disabled in certain bands) after being sold to end users. Equipment authorization/certification rules would establish minimum hardware and software capabilities for such devices, but they would include only baseline operating parameters (mirroring any existing technical rules) and would authorize deviation from the baseline through policy controls managed by third-party band/database managers. The rules could also include a built-in enforcement apparatus to implement interference deconfliction remedies (e.g., activity logs, over-the-air policy updates or time-limited access policies that would have to be renewed).
  • The policies themselves would implement the service rules and any licensing conditions or incumbent/stakeholder requirements. They could also be changed to reflect newly available operating frequencies or modified power levels. Regulators would defer to industry standards organizations such as IEEE working group P1900.5 and the Wireless Innovation Forum's Modeling Language for Mobility ("MLM") working group for the development of policy languages, ontologies and architectures. Based on such standards, entities can develop policy authoring and administration tools to create and manage the policies, which can be reviewed, tested and potentially modified by the regulator and other interested stakeholders. The regulator may also want to consider requiring a policy certificate security management feature that prevents unauthorized access by validating spectrum access polices in certain spectrum bands.

The following example is derived from the European Commission's Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPF) Report on "Cognitive Technologies" (Feb. 2010) and the RSPG "Opinion on Cognitive Technologies" (Feb. 2011):

  • A more simplified regulatory framework would focus on cognitive radio (CR) technologies that would be implemented/controlled through geo-location databases. This approach assumes that current regulatory mechanisms and models can be used as the primary basis for the introduction of CR technologies. However, new regulatory framework(s) would address the conditions/requirements that the databases and devices have to meet along with database accreditation issues. Specifications established by standards organizations would be needed for: the exchange of information between the CR devices and the database(s), to ensure that CR devices will be connected with the relevant database(s), geo-location systems, and other assurances. [See RSPG Opinion at p. 8 for "actions that would be needed for a common regulatory framework to enable implementation of geo-location-based CR devices."]

Another example of regulatory framework initiative is the European Union's project on a Techno-Economic Regulatory Framework for Radio Spectrum Access for Cognitive Radio/Software Defined Radio (TERRA)(http://www.cost-terra.org):

  • This effort is focused on coordinating techno-economic studies for the development of a harmonised European regulatory framework to facilitate the advancement and broad commercial deployment of Cognitive Radio/Software Defined Radio (CR/SDR) systems. Specifically, COST-TERRA Working Group 3, "Economic aspects of CR/SDR regulation," will work on evaluating the economic aspects of the developed CR/SDR regulations, considering both the attractiveness of rules suggested by studies in Working Groups 1 and 2 and the development of any new regulatory paradigms based on economic (market-based) policies. Such studies would identify critical factors that have significant impact on economic benefits and viability of the proposed regulatory regimes for CR/SDR. Working Group 4 on "Impact assessment of CR/SDR regulation" will work on carrying out impact assessment for identified combinations of techno-economic sets of CR/SDR deployment rules with the aim of identifying the most attractive combinations to form the basis for the ultimate CR/SDR regulatory framework with any variations therein.