Will 5G lead to more spectrum sharing? Discussing recent developments of the LSA and the CBRS spectrum sharing frameworks
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2020
This paper discusses two recent spectrum management frameworks, the Licensed Shared Access (LSA) developed in Europe and the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) developed in the United States (US), which build their management approach on spectrum sharing. The importance of these two frameworks, besides their leading normative roles, is that recent debates have shaped them as cases to consider in the adoption of the upcoming fifth generation (5G) of mobile communications technology, in particular in the C-band. A discussion on these two frameworks is organised by following the four-step decision-making guide for spectrum management developed by Pogorel (2007), which requires spectrum authorities to make decisions in four areas of spectrum management: frequency harmonization, technology standardization, type of usage rights and assignment procedures. Notwithstanding the similarities with respect to the four areas of spectrum management considered, the two frameworks differ on their implementation schedules. CBRS leads the way, with a handful of providers receiving government approval to manage spectrum access controllers, and as of mid 2020, scheduled to have allocated spectrum licenses on half of its available spectrum. On the contrary, European countries have shown scarce interest towards implementing the LSA, despite the extensive work carried out by regulatory and standardization bodies. This may suggest that there are external contextual factors which influence the successful implementation of spectrum sharing frameworks. An interesting aspect which deserves further investigation is the institutional context in which decisions related to radio spectrum management are taken. Unlike the US authorities, European institutions do not possess coercive enforcement powers with respect to spectrum sharing. This key difference may contribute to explaining the different speed at which LSA and CBRS are implemented.