Frequency policy shuts out smaller players

In Sweden and the rest of the world, extensive plans are underway to free up the spectrum for mobile operators. Most recently, 700 MHz, where the local authorities, PTS, seem to open up to only two operators in this band. That decision makes some of the operators feel that competition is being distorted. An essential component of our society is the free frequency bands needed to build unlicensed wireless networks. But lobby groups pushing that issue seem hard to find. At the same time, the free frequency bands are increasingly crucial for technologies like LoRA, wifi calls, offloading mobile broadband using wifi networks – all these are new technologies that are just being rolled out.

Hefty investments

Mobile broadband spectrum auctions bring in large sums of money to the public purse while at the same time representing a high cost to the operator. With the increased use of wifi, it’s an opportunity for the mobile industry which has a free infrastructure. The free aspect, of course, comes into play, the frequencies are unlicensed, and the availability of wifi is high and available at low cost. This development may be necessary, but what will happen when the free frequencies become less available due to more traffic? Which frequency bands will be used then?

The 2.4 GHz band is overloaded with wifi networks, Bluetooth and all kinds of wireless devices, and in apartment buildings, the problems are often obvious, resulting in slower transmission speeds.

Limited range

In theory, it is only possible to use three wifi networks at 2.4 GHz without them interfering with each other. 5 GHz is, of course, an option with better performance and transmission speeds of up to 300 Mbps, but with 25 mW output power, the range is limited, which on the other hand reduces interference, but when
5 GHz loses coverage; traffic is often switched to 2.4 GHz.

The current spectrum policy does not open the market to smaller players. With sufficient availability of free spectrum, even smaller operators can offer wireless connectivity in limited geographical areas.

In some US states, such smaller players account for 30-40% of the broadband market. In Sweden, we are confident that mobile operators will roll out 4G coverage and soon 5G. If we open up the market to smaller players, wireless links on free frequency bands will reach remote subscribers cost-effectively. Wireless networks on a free spectrum can quickly and efficiently cover smaller villages and towns and provide good capacity for Sweden’s rural residents.

Determined work

By working diligently to find new free frequency bands for wireless networks, we will achieve a better balance in wireless data traffic in the future. Wireless networks are needed in our homes, and they are necessary for us as a country to achieve balanced access to wireless data networks.