Paris, 23 March 2006
On 14 February, ARCEP launched a public consultation on the means of authorising point-to-point links. Today it is making public a summary of responses to the consultation (cf. appendix) and presenting its new directions:
- For the entire radio spectrum open to fixed service, an assignment authorisation mode is preferred for the issuing of authorisations
- The 23 GHz (22-22.6 GHz, 23-23.6 GHz) and 38 GHz (37.268-38.22 GHz, 38.528-39.48 GHz) frequency bands are also open for an allotment authorisation mode. Twenty-eight megahertz channels will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to players proving the channels will be used intensively
- Once the technical and general usage conditions have been established, the 32 GHz frequency band will be opened to meet players’ new needs. The authorisation mode will be assignment on a first-come, first-served basis or by allotment if such needs are expressed and demonstrated
- In coming months, ARCEP will study increasing the availability of microwave links in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz frequency bands
- Applicable technical constraints
Frequency sub-bands will be allotted by ARCEP on a first-come, first-served basis after it has examined users’ requests and the justification of their needs.
Links in the allotted sub-band will not be subjected to technical coordination for new links. Still, ARCEP will review this free use on a regular basis, in particular to examine whether backup bands should be used.
Operators are required to report to ARCEP the frequencies used in the allotted sub-bands before putting their links in services, both to allow ARCEP to update its database and by register them in ANFr’s (Agence Nationale des Frequencies) National Frequency File, thereby granting legal protection.
Last, in the more or less long term, the bands allotted may be eligible, like assigned frequency bands, for the secondary market upon publication of the decree establishing the general conditions for transferring authorisations and the order establishing the list of bands concerned.
Furthermore, to ensure the efficient management of the spectrum, the allotted frequency sub-bands will remain subject to the following requirements:
- Conformity with the decisions establishing the technical and general conditions for frequency bands for point-to-point links in fixed service
- Respect of the "parity" of sites
- No interference with existing point-to-point links, adjacent to the allotted frequency sub-band
SUMMARY OF CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION
Responses to this public consultation cover all networks using point-to-point links in terrestrial fixed service for the electronic communications network architecture.
1. Response to question 1
What comments would you make on the analysis which leads to the implementation of just the assignment authorisation mode for bands below 20 GHz for point-to-point links in fixed service?
Most contributors agree that assignment is the best suited mode for point-to-point link authorisations.
Furthermore, they recognise that there is high occupation of frequency bands of below 20 GHz with respect to available resources which makes it difficult to make allotments. This is why some suggest allowing users to share an allotment and authorising regional granularity.
Nonetheless, users are concerned about the financial impact of the assignment mode in bands below 20 GHz under the decree of 3 February 1993 modified and ask that the fee scale be updated.
Moreover, players explain that the allotment of frequency blocks facilitates engineering aspects of deploying networks and optimises the spectrum due to the fact that the user concentrates its point-to-point links in the allotment.
Frequency bands below 20 GHz open to point-to-point links are used by all players. As concerns mobile telephony operators, usage represents 20% of their entire network. The allocation of "preferential" or "priority" channels to mobile telephony operators has made it easy to deploy many links which are needed to quickly develop mobile networks, thereby helping them respect the obligations in their GSM and 3G licences, in particular in terms of geographic coverage. Because of this, mobile telephony operators consider themselves a distinct and separate category of users and wish to maintain the allocation of preferential or priority channels to them, in one form or another. They consider that maintaining allotment is compatible with the assignment allocation mode in that following consultation from the concerned mobile operator, their definition allows ARCEP, if it wishes, to authorise third parties to use frequencies in these channels. Furthermore, they state that some of their equipment has been "custom-made", that is, it cannot be used for frequencies across the entire band. This is why they emphasise the importance of keeping the channels used by their equipment as much as possible.
2. Response to question 2
With respect to your plans for future point-to-point link deployments, do you feel it relevant that ARCEP implement a first-come, first-served authorisation mode by allotment in bands above 20 GHz where frequencies are available, in order to complement the frequency assignment authorisation?
Frequency bands above 20 GHz open for point-to-point links are used by a few players. These are used for 80% of total network links of mobile telephony operators.
All users are in favour of implementing a first-come, first-served authorisation mode by allotment in bands above 20 GHz where frequencies are available, to complement the frequency assignment authorisation. Most responses indicate that the allotment allocation mode is very flexible for deploying large numbers of microwave links. However, one player put forward the negative effect of this allocation mode if it does not meet a real need: there would be the risk of artificial scarcity.
Last, players requested more information on the allocation procedure for these allotments, on their protection as well as the type of fee which would be charged. Certain users also stress that the fee associated with each allocation mode must be such that it discourages applications for allotments from users whose interest is solely financial.
3. Response to question 3
Briefly, what are your needs for microwave links in the medium term?
In general, all responses mention major needs for new channels in any frequency band in the medium term.
However, only three players clearly explained their needs.
- two 28 MHz channels in the 6L (6 GHz low) band
- five 40 MHz channels in the 6U (6 GHz high) band
- access to the 7 GHz band
- access to the 8.5 GHz band
- four 28 MHz channels in the 13 GHz band
- two 55 MHz channels in the 18 GHz band
- four 28 MHz channels in the 23 GHz band
- two 28 MHz channels in the 38 GHz band