Quiet Enjoyment – Best practices for peaceful operations in unlicensed bands

Quiet enjoyment

Not paying any spectrum fees? Then YOU are responsible for the unlicensed spectrum best practices and sharing, in your area.

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Anyone looking at building a reliable broadband wireless network would rather enjoy the benefits and peace of mind licensed spectrum can offer, rather than having to use licensed exempt (unlicensed) or lightly licensed spectrum.   However, for whatever reason, you’re not always able to secure licensed spectrum.  The most common obstacles to licensed spectrum are: it’s too expensive, unavailable in the desired market/country, unavailable in suitable bands and many other reasons.  So, you must look at license exempt, or in some countries, such as USA and Canada, a spectrum category exists called lightly licensed.  These bands may be very attractive; however, they are not exclusive to any users.

The main advantage of operating in a licensed spectrum is the protection against foreign interference. If a third party was to illegally use the licensed spectrum, the licensee can reach out to the local regulator and complain and demand spectrum enforcement, and demand that the rogue user vacates the spectrum immediately.  A hefty financial fine is usually imposed on the rogue operator, thus discouraging this behavior.  Obviously, the licensing fee paid to use licensed spectrum is a revenue generation mechanism for the local country/kingdom/commonwealth (the licensor), but it comes with usage exclusivity for the licensee.

In unlicensed, or even lightly licensed spectrum, there is no complaint department or phone number to call.   Since there are no regulator enforcement services in these “free” bands, you need to enforce the band yourself.  The issue is that if there is third party interference, how do you enforce this in an unlicensed band?   Well, there are many regions in the world where we have worked with numerous operators in a specific area to design a coordination plan with the objective for the operators to best share the spectrum and coexist.  In these cases, we have met around the table with multiple operators and agreed to a few simple best practices. After they started implementing these, they witnessed a significant reduction in the RF noise floor and benefited from the much better performance.  Here is a sample of some of the simple best practices:

  • Coordinate antenna azimuth ins say 0, 90, 180, 270. If everyone uses the same azimuths, it is far easier, to coordinate channels
  • Coordinate channels so they can be reused
  • Rely on professional RF planning tools and expertise to optimize your network
  • Optimize down-tilt of the antennas on main communication towers
  • Optimize down-tilt on remora radios
  • Use the least pf power possible, or if you have better quality equipment, use automatic power control, not the maximum
  • If multiple bands are available, use the ones with low EIRP limits for near location and only use the high-power bands when needed.

The above approach is proven globally for years.  The simple fact is that there is never anything free.   You either pay the regulator to secure exclusive use spectrum, or you spend a bit of energy to coordinate with the others that are in the same situation and area as you are in.  Without coordination in the unlicensed bands, all involved are at some level of risk to reduced performance, increased outages, other issues, and personal stress.  Clearly not the most enjoyable scenario.

I need here to thank an industry friend of mine who approved for me to use his following quote. Rick has much more experience than the average person on this specific topic.

-“After good coordination and operating using best practices, we all have a healthier and more reliable network… we are living in quiet enjoyment”.

For all of you who may be using licensed exempt or lightly licensed bands…I wish you quiet enjoyment!

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