Enhancing space to earth communications

Fairspectrum are developing Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) system for satellite communications, which will be able to share radio spectrum communications with terrestrial receivers.

Fairspectrum is the only company providing all standardised Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) solutions for Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), Licensed Shared Access (LSA), Television White Space (TVWS) and also, in the future, for Wi-Fi 6 Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC).

The potential of Dynamic Spectrum Access has been recognised by space industry. Its capability to assign radio spectrum for continuously increasing demand of satellite communication capacity more easily, faster and with lower cost than conventional radio spectrum administration methods based on exclusive licensing, is a powerful benefit. Instead of reserving vast spectrum resources, whether they are used or not, Dynamic Spectrum Access systems provide radio spectrum to the users when and where they actually use it.

Currently, satellite communication systems and terrestrial communications reserve their own frequency bands, or they use static sharing with large geographic protection areas. The satellite communications systems extend over several countries and obtaining a radio licence for a satellite system is cumbersome, slow and in many cases expensive process.

The increase of video content and soaring consumer expectations for data rates and service availability put pressure on old space communications systems to get more radio spectrum. At the same time, the number of new space actors rises fast. Many of the new space businesses are based on satellite to earth radio communication links, which not only require radio spectrum but should administratively be faster and easier allocated than the conventional satellite communications bands.

Dynamic Spectrum Access for satellite communications

Fairspectrum, an innovative deep-tech company from Finland, has successfully demonstrated Dynamic Spectrum Access between satellite and terrestrial communications systems. The dynamic sharing technology is based on a Dynamic Spectrum Access system, which maintains the information about sharing spectrum users, has a capability to change radio operating parameters of one or more radio systems and computes the interference caused by the radio systems. The Dynamic Spectrum Access system is called Spectrum Access System (SAS) in Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), LSA Repository and LSA Controller in Licensed Shared Access (LSA), TVWS geolocation database in Television White Space (TVWS) and Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) in 6 GHz Wi-Fi.

In addition to these terrestrial communications focused DSA systems, Fairspectrum develops Dynamic Spectrum Access solutions concentrating in satellite communications. The potential frequency bands for sharing range from 1.5 GHz L-band to 86 GHz W band – having the highest interest in the 3.5 GHz C-band and 28 GHz Ka-band currently.

The solutions can be applied both in space to earth and earth to space direction. Geostationary Orbit (GSO) satellite communication has been the most common is spectrum sharing, but Dynamic Spectrum Access with Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) satellite communication has also received increasing interest. The priority order of terrestrial communication as secondary and satellite as primary has been the first commercial Dynamic Spectrum Access scenario in the C-band. Secondary use of spectrum by satellites could be an option to achieve higher bandwidth in satellite communications for example in the Ka-band.

Furthermore, spectrum sharing could take place between GSO and NGSO satellite networks or feeder links of different satellite operators. Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) bands could also be shared with Intersatellite Links (ISL), and 3GPP has an ambitious plan to integrate satellite and terrestrial communication to provide seamless 5G network connectivity. Non-claim, non-interference satellite spectrum access (which resembles Wi-Fi licence-exempt spectrum) should be studied further.

More efficient resource utilisation, less red tape and end user benefits

Dynamic Spectrum Access systems of Fairspectrum add time-domain to frequency and geography domains of static spectrum sharing. A spectrum sharing system becomes dynamic when it can handle radio spectrum user changes with a frequency that a radio administration cannot process. When the Dynamic Spectrum Access is integrated to a base station scheduler, DSA is able to make decisions in sub-milliseconds. At the other end, a change frequency of tens of days can still be dynamic.

Dynamic Spectrum Access can include more detailed information about spectrum use, leading to smaller protection margins than in static sharing. The decreased protection margins and sharing in time domain increase the efficiency of spectrum use and help the wireless systems to adapt to the ever-growing demand of radio communication capacity.

National radio administrations have a legal obligation to regulate the use of radio spectrum. On both global and continental level, the rules are agreed in International Telecommunications Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). When an organisation receives an exclusive or protected spectrum assignment, the rights holder protects it fiercely with official complaints and lawsuits. In order to minimise future disputes, the radio administrations have to consider all radio licence applications very carefully before issuing the licence and be even more careful when proposing changes during a licence period. The spectrum users in Dynamic Spectrum Access arrangement accept the dynamic changes from the beginning, which makes it easier to begin, end and change spectrum use.

With the help of Dynamic Spectrum Access, the communications operators are able to get additional radio spectrum capacity faster and with a lower cost. The end users can expect to have higher data rates without significant increase in subscription price. The integration of 5G networks and 5G satellite networks will make it possible to have end user devices, which are able to connect to satellite service in addition to terrestrial networks. The integration of 5G networks and 5G satellite networks will make it possible to have end user devices, which are able to connect to satellite service in addition to terrestrial networks; the coverage of 5G services with the mobile device will be increased drastically.

Partner network

Moreover, Fairspectrum has created a wide network of partners in Dynamic Spectrum Access. Operators get access to wider bandwidth of radio spectrum faster, easier and with lower cost. The spectrum capacity brings them new customers and higher revenue from the existing customers. Device vendors find new business opportunities by being able to offer new products to their existing customers and find new customer groups, which are not possible to reach without the increase of coverage, capacity, and spectrum enabled by Dynamic Spectrum Access. Radio administrations find Dynamic Spectrum Access to help them in the day-to-day tasks. Allocations for local, private radio networks are processed automatically, the use of spectrum resources is managed and documented without manual work. In a rare case of suspected interference, the Dynamic Spectrum Access tools limit the possible causes making the enforcement tasks very efficient. The combination of space communications and Dynamic Spectrum Access opens a vast range of world-class research opportunities for academic partners.

The Fairspectrum team consists of highly competent professionals in the communications and cloud service sector. The team capabilities consist of a balanced understanding of regulatory affairs, communications systems experience, radio propagation modelling, software development, cloud service management, innovative solution finding and professor-level academic skills. The team has expertise in various parts of product development lifecycle from research and development, demonstrating, piloting to commercial service launch and operation.

Fairspectrum is a pioneer in Dynamic Spectrum Access and has achieved its leading global position by active participation in research, technology development, regulation, standardisation and cloud service creation, especially in Europe but also in North America, Africa and Asia. Fairspectrum offers talents for consulting and research to leash the full potential of the opportunities of their customers and partners. Fairspectrum develops and operates standard and custom-made Dynamic Spectrum Access systems and offers them through software licensing, white label deals or as branded services.

Heikki Kokkinen

CEO and Co-founder


+358 50 483 9510




Please note, this article will appear in issue 32 of SciTech Europa Quarterly, which is available to read now.

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