OSAB Annual Report 2012-2013

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OSAB Annual Report 2012-2013OSAB A

    Ofcom Spectrum Advisory


    Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Publication date: 16 July 2013

OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013


    Section Page

    1 Message from Ofcom‟s Chairman 2

    2 Foreword by OSAB‟s Chairman 3

    3 Introduction 4

    4 Topics considered during the year 6

    Annex Page

    1 Ofcom Spectrum Advisory Board Terms of Reference 21

    2 Membership of OSAB 23


OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Section 1

    Message from Ofcom‟s Chairman

    OSAB, since its inception in 2004, has played an invaluable role by being able to looking ahead and widely, ensuring that Ofcom remains well informed about key trends throughout the sectors we regulate.

    The past year has seen progress on, or successful completion of, a number of Ofcom‟s spectrum related activities. These include the award of 4G spectrum and the further development of our plans to make TV white spaces available for innovative new services. Yet the communications market continues to evolve and we are already looking ahead to the next set of challenges.

    The topics which OSAB has considered over the period covered by this report have included the delivery of services over both wireless and wired networks. Subjects tackled include the evolution of Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies, backhaul options for mobile networks and the provision of reliable in-building coverage.

    With its wide range of authoritative members from a diverse range of backgrounds, OSAB invariably casts new light on the significant challenges that face us in the years ahead, as well as alerting us to new issues and opportunities that will emerge. OSAB meetings are always well attended; and the lively discussions are characteristic of the personal enthusiasm of the members.

    As always, I‟d like to record my gratitude to all members of OSAB who provide their time and experience. Yet again, in reading their annual report, I‟m struck both by the breadth of issues they have covered and the diversity of advice they have provided advice that, as ever,

    continues to be taken very seriously within Ofcom

Colette Bowe

    Chairman of Ofcom


OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Section 2

    Foreword by OSAB‟s Chairman

    The Ofcom Spectrum Advisory Board (OSAB) is pleased to present its ninth annual report and my third as its Chairman.

    In this last year OSAB has offered insight and advice to Ofcom on a number of issues, including helping the regulator understand how the evolution of technology will lead to the better delivery of services over wired and wireless networks, the challenges in delivering reliable in-building coverage and technologies enabling the delivery of new mobile services and meeting the future demand for wireless and mobile data.

    I hope that this report conveys a strong sense of the richness of the discussions during OSAB meetings and between OSAB and Ofcom. In addition to appointing two ex-officio members of the Committee to provide a regulator perspective on issues, OSAB‟s meetings are always attended by senior members of Ofcom who actively participate in our debates. I am particularly grateful for the presence and support at OSAB meetings of H Nwana, who in April 2013 stepped down as the Director of Ofcom‟s Spectrum Policy Group. We are looking forward to equally stimulating debates with H‟s successor.

    OSAB‟s productivity, measured by the spread of issues addressed and the quality of the advice offered, has continued to benefit from the diverse knowledge and the passion for their subject which its members bring to its meetings. I am grateful to all of them for having made the Chairman‟s job so easy.

David Meyer

    Chairman, Ofcom Spectrum Advisory Board


OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Section 3



    8.1 The Ofcom Spectrum Advisory Board (OSAB) was established on 19 May 2004 to

    provide independent advice to Ofcom on strategic spectrum management issues.

    OSAB provides Ofcom with:

    ; A rapid way to test new ideas across a wide range of experts;

    ; A means of identifying issues that are beyond Ofcom‟s regulatory “headlights”;

    ; A demonstration of Ofcom‟s commitment to consult in an open and collaborative

    manner; and

    ; A mechanism to help reach an agreed industry view of difficult and contentious

    issues through the hosting of open fora.

    Annual report

    8.2 This document reports on OSAB‟s ninth year. It is intended to summarise selected

    discussions throughout the year and its content is based on published minutes of

    OSAB meetings.

    Terms of reference

    8.3 In 2008 the terms of reference for OSAB were revisited. Ofcom and OSAB agreed

    that although OSAB‟s initial role had been to provide advice to Ofcom on spectrum-

    related matters; it was increasingly difficult to consider spectrum-related matters in

    isolation in a converging world.

    8.4 Hence it was decided that OSAB‟s remit should be broadened to include all future

    communication architectures, access methods, physical layer technologies, spectrum

    issues, services and applications. OSAB would be responsible for high level and

    longer term vision and not for detailed assessment of different approaches, standard

    setting or consensus building amongst industry. However, it would not involve itself

    with content matters.


    8.5 The membership of OSAB is reviewed on an annual basis. This year it was decided

    that there was no need to make any changes to the membership of the Committee. 8.6 Details of OSAB membership including the length of tenure are at Annex 2.


OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Work Programme

    8.7 OSAB is responsible for agreeing its own work programme. During this year a range

    of topics was discussed, predominantly related to use and management of spectrum.

    We have organised the topics into three broad categories:

    ; Network evolution;

    ; Delivering wireless and mobile services; and

    ; Meeting future demand for wireless and mobile data.

    8.8 OSAB meets 5-6 times a year and holds an annual workshop where a whole day is

    devoted to a particular issue.

    The Year Ahead

    8.9 OSAB sets its agenda from meeting to meeting depending on progress made in

    particular areas, time available and topics arising. It deliberately does not plan a year

    ahead to allow for flexibility and responsiveness.

    Further Information

    8.10 For further information on the work of the Ofcom Spectrum Advisory Board, please

    contact the OSAB Secretary:

    Mr Paul Rogers


    Riverside House

    2a Southwark Bridge Road

    London SE1 9HA

    Tel: 020 7783 4031


Or visit the OSAB website at


OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Section 4

    Topics considered during the year 9.1 During this year a range of topics was discussed by OSAB, predominantly related to

    use and management of spectrum. We have organised the topics into three broad


    ; Network evolution: understanding how the evolution of technologies will lead to the

    better delivery of services over wired and wireless networks;

    ; Delivering wireless and mobile services: covering the challenges in delivering

    reliable in-building coverage and technologies enabling the delivery of new mobile


    ; Meeting future demand for wireless and mobile data: continuing a longstanding

    theme of OSAB, which addresses the steps required to meet the growing demand for

    wireless and mobile data services in the medium to long term.

    9.2 We address each of these topics in turn in the sections below.

    9.3 Throughout the year, OSAB also discussed a number of topics that, for the sake of

    brevity, are not summarised here. These include an exploration of barriers to

    realising a fully functioning spectrum market to the benefit of citizens and consumers,

    including case studies of the 700MHz, 1.4GHz and 2.3GHz bands. OSAB also was

    kept informed of progress of activities on which they had provided input in the

    previous year, such as the implementation of Ofcom‟s UHF Strategy.

    9.4 More broadly, OSAB often discusses topics which explore how Ofcom‟s overall

    approach to spectrum could best address economic and wider social goals. These

    are recurring themes, to which OSAB will return in the future.

    Network evolution

    9.5 During the year, OSAB discussed a number of topics covering how technology

    developments and architectural changes are contributing to the evolution of both

    wired and wireless networks. Two such topics are summarised below. Topic 1: The evolution of fibre NGA networks

    9.6 The proliferation of internet-capable devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and

    connected TVs, is driving the consumption of data in the home. Consumer behaviour

    is changing, with a growing appetite for data hungry applications such as the BBC

    iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube. Furthermore, the advent of cloud-based applications is

    driving the capacity requirements of access networks, both to the home and business


    9.7 Fibre-based Next Generation Access (NGA) networks will play a vital role in meeting

    this demand for data services. OSAB received a presentation which outlined the

    evolution of technologies for NGA networks and noted that:


    OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

    9.7.1 Fibre efficiency, scalable bandwidth, secure connectivity, long reach and

    costs efficient operations are highly critical to future foolproof, high capacity

    access networks.

    9.7.2 Two architectural choices for fibre deployment are: Point to Point (PtP) and

    Passive Optical Networks (PONs). PONs share a single laser across 32-64

    users so less fibre is required between the exchange and optical splitter (i.e.

    the point in the network where multiple premises are connected), thus

    reducing capex by 8-30% compared to a PtP deployment. Furthermore,

    there is less fibre to re-splice if a cable is accidentally cut. Therefore, PON

    is a suitable topology for IPTV multicast or a cable network radio frequency


    9.7.3 A variant of PON, WDM-PON (wavelength division multiplexing PON) offers

    a single access architecture for all markets. Unbundling of WDM-PON

    allows communications providers to provide a specific bandwidth via a

    dedicated wavelength. It is also possible to mix consumer, business and

    infrastructure traffic, which offers the following advantages to the

    infrastructure provider:

    o No field operations are required to commission the communications

    provider‟s end-users or switch users between providers;

    o It is possible to retro-fit wavelength unbundling to initial PON fibre

    infrastructure as standards mature; and

    o There is the potential for greater re-use of existing passive

    infrastructure, such as ducts.

    9.8 OSAB made the following comments on the presentation:

    9.8.1 With respect to future proofing, this would depend upon the ease with

    which architecture modifications could be introduced when circumstances


    9.8.2 OSAB noted that incumbents would be less interested in opening up new

    markets. Existing providers would be deterred from making significant

    investments in fibre networks if new entrants would be able to access it.

    Regulatory intervention may be needed to ensure equality of access; 9.8.3 Similarly, regulators would need to ensure that there were no barriers of

    entry for new entrants;

    9.8.4 New technologies would need to be made available across Europe and not

    be country-specific;

    9.8.5 In the UK, there would be distinctive differences between networks in urban

    and rural areas. WDM-PON technology will likely be limited to urban areas,

    given the costs in deploying fibre to rural areas;

    9.8.6 The regulator would need to understand the market and avoid easy

    solutions in order to avoid monopolies arising; and


    OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

    9.8.7 Consumers needed to have an awareness of what the technologies could

    deliver to influence providers to develop markets.

    Topic 2: The evolution of mobile backhaul networks

    9.9 Currently, the majority of mobile backhaul capacity is served using copper and microwave fixed links, with between 3 and 6 E1 (i.e. 2Mbps) connections required per base station. Increasing demand for mobile services is driving backhaul bandwidth requirements to levels where fibre becomes a necessity. Mobile operators are beginning to upgrade their macro basestations to Ethernet, with data rates of at least 100Mbps. An understanding of the evolution of mobile backhaul technology is, therefore, important to assess future delivery of services.

    9.10 OSAB received a presentation on the evolution of backhaul for mobile networks and noted that:

    9.10.1 By 2016, 79% of UK mobile users (46 million people) will belong to the

    Gigabyte Club, generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic

    per month;

    9.10.2 Backhaul technologies have evolved from time division multiplexing

    technologies (TDM) for 2G, to asynchronous transfer mode technologies

    (ATM) for 3G and to Ethernet for 4G mobile services. Ethernet over fibre

    and microwave are dominating new mobile backhaul links;

    9.10.3 Fibre, microwave and non line of sight (NLOS) radio backhaul will be

    increasingly required to handle the capacity of the various 4G cell site

    interfaces. NGA technologies will play an important role for both 4G

    backhaul and fronthaul (i.e. interconnection between neighbouring


    9.10.4 4G significantly changes the access and metro area architectures, including

    multi-core connectivity; following RAN splitting, mobile backhaul is moving

    towards a new fronthaul segment plus a backhaul aggregation segment; 9.10.5 Small cells provide extra capacity where needed, therefore becoming

    increasingly important as small cells offload traffic from macro cells.

    However, small cells need to be properly integrated into the MNO network

    to ensure a transparent end-user quality of experience; and 9.10.6 Mobile operators and consumers are increasingly using femtocells (in the

    home or office), home WiFi or WiFi hotspots to offload data from the macro


    9.11 OSAB made the following comments on the presentation:

    9.11.1 It is necessary to look at demand to anticipate changes;

    9.11.2 The impact of small cells on backhaul should be considered.


    OSAB Annual Report 2012 - 2013

    9.11.3 A particular uptake of NGA services is required to offset investment costs.

    In areas where there is limited demand for NGA-based backhaul services,

    there will still be a need for wireless backhaul.

    Delivering wireless and mobile services

    9.12 Spectrum underpins a growing range of services that are relied upon by citizens, consumers and businesses. Many such services have become vital components of the UK‟s communications landscape. In addition to topics on the demand for or

    supply of spectrum, OSAB also frequently considers topics addressing how services are built or delivered using spectrum. During the year, two such topics were discussed by OSAB.

    Topic 1: In-building coverage of mobile services

    9.13 A significant proportion of mobile use takes place indoors, either at home or in the office. However, providing reliable in-building coverage is challenging, due to the building materials used. OSAB received a presentation which sought to assess whether technology, service or market developments could have the effect of significantly increasing in-building coverage. OSAB noted that:

    9.13.1 The traditional network view was for „outside-in always wins‟ but now indoor

    usage has increased by 70-90%, and the indoor locations of relevance are

    predominately just two per person (my home, my office);

    9.13.2 Macrocells (i.e. outside-in) serve (nearly) all buildings with a single

    investment. But building penetration losses are high and getting higher due

    to routine use of metalized glass with good thermal insulation properties; 9.13.3 Smartphones have poorer sensitivity than traditional phones; 9.13.4 Low frequencies help with range and depth but at the cost of capacity,

    which is usually limited in low frequencies and can give rise to contention; 9.13.5 Outdoor small cells can be more cost-effective than indoor Wi-Fi or

    femtocell offload but there is a problem with angles (i.e. signals hitting the

    building at an angle and not penetrating cleanly);

    9.13.6 Inside-out solutions, such as distributed antenna systems (DAS) are well-

    suited to public venues but may reach capacity in coming years and

    attempts to introduce DAS in smaller locations have floundered on grounds

    of project cost.

    9.13.7 Femtocells provide low-power domestic and small/home office coverage.

    There are standards for 3G and LTE, open interfaces, custom chips and a

    wide range of products from small and large vendors. But there is

    generally low awareness of the product; operators have targeted them

    more for churn reduction (rather than acquisition) and have issues over

    brand (some consumers are reluctant to pay due to the perception that they

    are already paying for the network to work effectively);


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