"A number of regulators are using a mix of licensed and unlicensed spectrum to promote low-cost broadband services in under-served areas. Ireland, for example, allows small operators to launch services in rural areas using unlicensed spectrum, and at very low cost. These operators can migrate to licensed spectrum once they have established a successful business.
"Since July 2002, wideband data transmission systems for the provision of fixed wireless access networks or metropolitan area networks in Ireland have been permitted in the 5.8 GHz (5725 - 5875 MHz) band on a licence-exempt basis, provided that the maximum radiated power does not exceed 2W eirp. This power level, which is above the European harmonized standard, has increased potential coverage and hence the utility of the 5.8 GHz band..." ---ITU News No. 2 (March 2006), page 2.
" 'Spectrum is considered a scarce resource, notes Dr Linda Doyle, who leads the spectrum research group within [Trinity College Dublin's] Centre for Telecommunications Value-chain Research (CTVR). 'But some of that scarcity is actually a false scarcity, because spectrum isn't efficiently used.'
"...[In] a unique arrangement with Irish communications regulator ComReg, [CTVR's] researchers have been granted a 50MHz swath of spectrum for an experimental software radio licence to conduct live experiments... Until now, nobody has been able to experiment with live spectrum, says TCD Professor Donal O'Mahony, director of CTVR. Research groups worldwide have been working in the area of spectrum-hopping for some time, but have had to use computer simulations.
"Doyle says there isn't another regulator in the world that has been willing (or able) to grant spectrum for this kind of use. When, at a recent conference, she mentioned the grant to Michael Gallagher, the assistant secretary for communications and information of the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 'he nearly fell off his chair,' she says.
"Isolde Goggin, the chair of ComReg, says it was able to offer the spectrum under its 'test and trial' research and development programme because Ireland 'is in a fairly fortunate position': a low population density means there is a lot of uncongested spectrum... Goggin says that ComReg made the decision 'to turn spectrum allocation around from a restrictive approach, to saying if we can do it, we will'.
"Doyle says spectrum-hopping would require a complete rethink of how commercial-use spectrum is allocated and paid for. Rather than a licensing system that lets operators control a fiefdom of spectrum - the current model, which the Tech CEO Council would like to see expanded - spectrum-hopping would be more like a frequency timeshare...
"The Irish hope their ability to give researchers access to spectrum will attract investment as well as create opportunities for local companies. 'Because Ireland is an island, it can be a playground for spectrum,' says Doyle.
"But Goggin has even bigger dreams. 'This could be Ireland's oil,' she muses."
Trinity College's Centre for Telecommunications Value-Chain Research has an Emerging Networks strand which is directly relevant to Open Spectrum. Check out their blog and video archive.
"Response to Consultation: Opportunities for Trialling Wireless Services and Technologies in Ireland," ComReg Document 04/115 (28 pages), 29 November 2004: "ComReg now intends to proceed swiftly with the introduction, early in 2005, of a new licensing regime for radio service and technology trials which will bring Ireland to the forefront as an ideal location for research and development. In addition to relaxing some of the constraints on the existing test licence regime, a new licensing scheme will be introduced which for the first time will allow innovative new wireless services that do not fit within existing licence categories to be offered to the public on a trial basis. This will allow new service concepts to be tested in a realistic environment at an early stage of development, ensuring that subsequent commercial offerings are properly tailored to meet the needs of users. Safeguards will be built in to the new scheme to ensure that this does not disadvantage existing licensed services...."
"Ireland's first wireless town goes live," by John Kennedy, Silicon Republic, 25 April 2007: "Carlow will become the country's very first completely wireless-enabled broadband town later today as a result of a collaboration between metropolitan area network (MAN) provider e-Net and Carlow County Council. The new network will be deployed three years ahead of Dublin's proposed Wi-Fi network and will cover 50pc of businesses and 10pc of homes in Carlow town. The Wi-Fi mesh network will allow users to access broadband for around €3 a day or around €15 a month..."
"Broadcasting bill may require TV licenses for PCs," by Carla Moore, Digital Media Europe, 8 September 2006: "Laptops, PCs and mobile phones may soon be considered a 'television set' under Irish law if a new broadcasting bill is approved. The bill does not change the current requirement of one TV licence per household, meaning that TV viewers with an existing TV licence do not have to buy another license if they watch TV using a laptop or PC..."
"ComReg to give green light to iTrips," ComReg media release, 5 September 2006: "The Commission for Communications Regulation has today said that short range transmitting devices such as iTrips will soon be made legal in Ireland. These are small radio-transmitting devices that are used for connecting MP3 players to radios and car stereos... It is expected that such devices will be legalised before the end of the year... The proposal is... published in ComReg document 06/47..."
"Permitted Short Range Devices in Ireland," Document No. 02/71 (30 July 2002) - Wi-fi is included as license exempt. However, according to a 2003 report by the UMTS Forum, providers of public WLAN service in Ireland need a basic telecom service license.
"Irish wireless tech research nets €90k EI funds" by Gordon Smith, Silicon Republic, 23 October 2006: " Promising research work being carried out by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) into wireless systems for consumer electronics has received €90,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland (EI)... The technology in question involves low-cost igh-performance antennas for ultra wideBand (UWB) systems..."