European Spectrum Report Addresses 400 MHz PMR Use
Monday, August 05, 2019 | Comments
A report from the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) offers updates on current and future use for the 400 MHz professional mobile radio (PMR)/public access mobile radio (PAMR) frequencies.

The PMR/PAMR sector is highly competitive with more than 20 vendors and primarily provides standardized technology to vertical markets. Business and mission-critical machine-to-machine (M2M) communications needs are increasing. In light of new technical and commercial requirements, deployments of new mobile networks enable robust connectivity to a high number of M2M/internet of things (IoT) devices.

While 450 – 470 MHz is a common band for PMR/PAMR, certain countries have licensed up to 2-by-5 megahertz of spectrum at 450 – 470 MHz and deployed commercial CDMA networks. The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Hungary and the Czech Republic already have networks providing connectivity for millions of devices using CDMA450 or LTE450 technology. These networks have been assigned nationwide licenses, and existing CDMA networks are likely to migrate toward Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

Future LTE networks in the 400 MHz band may operate on a national, regional or local basis. Spectrum used for narrowband PMR/PAMR is assigned based on nationwide, regional or local use. Whereas the spectrum assigned to be used for cellular technologies will typically be assigned as nationwide only, it can’t be used for PMR networks anymore. Such discrimination between 12.5 kilohertz-based PMR and Mobile/Fixed Communications Networks (MFCN) will be significant if more cellular technologies are introduced for the current users of PMR/PAMR.

The evolution of technologies to support more data, varying frequency bandwidths, and business and mission-critical M2M communications is important for users across industries. Users should be allowed to continue to use their current PMR licenses based on the current regulatory framework and evolve without being disrupted by a frequency management policy that favors a single player’s access to broader spectrum on nationwide basis.

“The evolution of market demands, the availability of cellular mobile technologies in 400 MHz bands, as well as evolving requirements for mission-critical M2M applications should be carefully reflected in spectrum management activities and in national frequency policies,” the ECC Report 292 said.

Depending on PMR/PAMR use in the country, CEPT administrations may decide which parts of the available spectrum for PMR systems is made or kept available for networks based on specific narrowband, wideband or broadband technologies. It is often difficult to identify continuous spectrum to reach LTE channel sizes of 1.4, 3 or 5 megahertz. National regulatory strategies are required for migration of narrowband usage to a certain frequency bands to achieve a contiguous range of spectrum for assignments of spectrum for land mobile systems based on LTE technology. The report describes options that administrations can employ.

The report also identifies future standardization activities. The committee proposed that the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) should consider standardization activities for 410 – 430 MHz to coordinate LTE and radar systems. The report also recommends a work item for European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards for a means to facilitate PMR spectrum sharing. In addition, improved receiver specifications may be helpful for more effective spectrum use such as by avoiding guard bands between different land mobile systems operating in adjacent 400 MHz frequency ranges.

The report also said the potential impact of intermodulation distortion in PMR receivers caused by neighboring broadband signals should be taken into account. This is dependent on frequency offset of the LTE carrier from the victim PMR receiver, the received power and the intermodulation performance of the victim PMR receiver at that frequency offset. No conclusion on the intermodulation effect from broadband interferers into narrowband victims could be reached in ECC Report 283 [43], and additional investigations will be conducted within ECC.

ECC reports are available here. The draft report was released last year for public consultation.

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