LIVE FROM DSA GLOBAL SUMMIT, LONDON: Philip Marnick, UK regulator Ofcom’s group director of spectrum, urged mobile operators to rethink a protectionist mentality to spectrum and find new approaches to enable a more open environment.
In a keynote at the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Global Summit today (2 May), Marnick (pictured, right) said mobile operators, large ministries and satellite operators had to “figure out a way” to make spectrum available to more people – like innovators and enterprise disruptors – thus enabling a new approach and mindset around future spectrum usage.
“We live in a world where protection is key. Everyone thinks they own the bit of spectrum they’ve got…we work in a way to make sure people can’t get in and it’s very much a keep off the grass approach. But, it’s a world we can’t live in. It’s an approach of ‘no you can’t’ and we’ve got to move to a world of ‘how do we make it work?’” he said.
Freeing up spectrum and giving people more power to use it could also help with the development of 5G, Marnick said. He questioned how mobile operators will be sole developers of the technology in the future given the vast number of use cases expected when 5G comes to market.
“5G is a range of things,” he said. “But, is it a mobile technology or is it a technology that people can use to develop different solutions at different points? Is it really something that is driven by mobile operators? I believe it is a mobile technology that can be used to facilitate development – and not just by the mobile operators.”
Highlighting the fact 5G is expected to deliver industrial high capacity applications, IoT for both consumers and industry, along with transport through autonomous and connected cars, Marnick homed in on his point, stating mobile is still a key driver, but a 5G world “is not the traditional mobile of the last 30 years”.
“Is this a world always enabled by mobile operators or is this a world enabled by technology evolution? That’s what we are struggling with as we go.”
Marnick referenced the US CBRS model as an example of how to open up more access.
“Lots of people are developing new applications and services. Mobile operators buy big bits of equipment from big suppliers, but lots of new innovative players can’t deal with big mobile suppliers to supply equipment. Like with US CBRS example, how do we get different people involved?”
Ofcom committed to 5G
Marnick said his challenge at the UK regulator was to ensure spectrum “is not an inhibitor to 5G”, and it will look to ensure “spectrum is available for 5G to take off”.
Updating on the UK’s 5G spectrum roadmap, Marnick said the regulator was looking at releasing 3.6GHz to 3.8GHZ in 2019, following this year’s spectrum auction for 3.4GHz. Ofcom is also looking at sharing models for 3.8GHz to 4.2GHz.