the fall of the hammer, slivers of spectrum are being sold around the
globe for seemingly unimaginable prices. The driving force behind these
record prices is both the need to secure enough additional spectrum to
cope with voice traffic growth and the dizzying potential of third generation
(3G) on-line services. Mobile services such as video linking, Internet
access and m-commerce will, according to some industry pundits, launch
a communications renaissance to rival the invention of the telephone itself.
After the auctions, many operators are waking up to some particularly
cold hard realitiesnot the least, the stark business issue of recouping
the cost of these 3G spectrum diamonds. High-speed deployment
will be the order of the day.
In the more mature and environment-sensitive cellular markets, base station
issuesparticularly RF issueswill pose some tricky problems.
Driven by community concern over so-called electro-smog, site
acquisition across European cities ranges from the difficult to almost
impossible. Meanwhile, operators will struggle with 3G cell site coverage
planning where subscriber take-up, service demand and even data link rate
is, at this stage, largely unpredictable.
The move from 2G Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) to 3G Universal
Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) stands in stark contrast to earlier
migrations such as GSM 900 to Digital Cellular System (DCS) 1800. The
UMTS is a totally different technology from A to Z, explains Pierre
Clavel, RFSs Strategic Marketing Manager for Europe. Even
aside from the obvious Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) versus Wideband
Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) radio modulation differences, the
higher data bit rates of UMTS will impact all the way through the switching
and backbone interface.
Overlaid with this is the dramatic expansion and division of the cellular
operator market catalysed by 3G. While many 2G operators have acquired
new spectrum licenses to support their move into UMTS, others plan to
adopt alternative 3G-style technologies utilising existing GSM/DCS spectrum
(most notably Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE))and both
will soon compete with the new breed of 3G only operators.
Each will face its own unique base station RF deployment challenges.