By Susan J. Campbell
Service providers the world over are experiencing continued data traffic growth on their mobile networks. To help offset the strain this traffic is placing on these networks, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken unused wireless TV spectrum (white spaces) and made them available for open, free and unlicensed use.
This regulatory change suggests that anyone can easily become a wireless Internet provider, users will begin to see new and inexpensive or free Wi-Fi-like services emerging, and suppliers will gain new customers from sources other than traditional operator markets.
This new environment demands a rich and complete ecosystem to provide the necessary supplier expertise and services to drive new equipment support, distribution methodology and customer billing and payment. As a result, the use and operation of white spaces will become seamless and profitable.
A recent Alcatel-Lucent white paper, White Spaces and Mobile Communications, explores this concept, suggesting that the creation of a national white spaces cloud network can support the two standards and ensure seamless interconnection to each mobile broadband operator’s networks. This approach enables operators to use white spaces to offset the mobile data explosion and address end user demand within Mobile Communications.
The architecture envisioned by Alcatel-Lucent is designed to address three key use-bases for a white spaces cloud, including 3G/4G off-loading, a network infrastructure for smart city applications, and a delivery of the rural broadband. The resulting cloud database to support the mobile Internet would maintain information such as the location of each access points, the traffic load on each access point, spectrum characteristics and real-time client information.
To ensure there is efficient off-load in place, the operator must specify the total capacity required at a specific point in time. This requires the implementation of a content distribution network to make intelligent decisions on which content to cache and where according to the quality of the spectrum; and SLA negotiation engine to query the white spaces cloud database engine and then negotiates with the operator to arrive at the demand that can be effectively offloaded at the right price; and a network virtualization engine to invoke the resource allocation engine to re-allocate resources to ensure all SLAs are met.
The proper management of the mobile Internet within the white spaces to support mobile communications must also rely on the authentication engine to conduct authentication activities before a client is off-loaded. The handover engine to support inter-network handover and intra-network handover must be in place, as well as the optimal network engine to ensure all operating expenses are minimized.
To help drive the implementation of this type of mobile Internet, Alcatel-Lucent is uniquely positioned to lead this market with the delivery of services, products and business models to address the mobile data traffic explosion with white spaces solutions.