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Understanding the Spectrum Environment

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Understanding the Spectrum Environment:

Using data and monitoring to improve spectrum utilization

March 31, 2014

Arlington, VA



The Presidenitial Memorandum –Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation, released on June 14, 2013, identifies the critical need to monitor spectrum usage in real time. In support of moving this concept forward, the Wireless Spectrum Research and Development Senior Steering Group (WSRD SSG) will hold its next workshop, Understanding the Spectrum Environment: Using data and monitoring to improve spectrum utilization, on March 31, from 9:00AM-6:00PM, at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA. This workshop will bring together experts across government, industry, and academia to discuss how the use of spectrum data and monitoring can be used to better inform spectrum policy and management decisions, improve regulatory enforcement, and coordinate more efficient and dynamic spectrum usage. Information gathered from the workshop will be instrumental in helping the WSRD SSG develop recommendations to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Workshop Goals

The workshop will utilize the collective expertise of thought leaders to:


With a few notable exceptions, past spectrum measurements have been short-term ad hoc efforts that provide snapshots of information in particular bands of incumbent usage. Advances and developments in sensor technology, computing speeds, applications, data, and information management (e.g. Big Data) have opened new possibilities for automated long-term monitoring and data reporting. With standardization and best practices to ensure data quality, usable formats and security, measured data could be made available alongside spectrum license data to improve the quality and quantity of information available for various decision makers. Further, in the spirit of the PCAST Spectrum Access System (SAS) recommendation, this information fed into a compatibility algorithm could enable an automated dynamic spectrum access paradigm for select scenarios.

Beyond advances in “passive” spectrum monitoring technologies, there is a vast and increasing amount of “active” data being collected. Performance metrics, for example, are acquired on a routine basis by wireless carriers but there have been limited efforts to collect, extend, and collate this information for the benefit of all. It has been suggested that end user devices could not only be enlisted to measure wireless performance on a voluntary basis - they could be used for enforcement purposes to detect, identify, and locate interference events. With such data monitoring and exposure, however, comes several key issues related to security and privacy.

Workshop Format

The morning will feature two panels, one focusing on policy, and one on current key spectrum monitoring projects. This will be followed by an extended working lunch featuring exhibits and demonstrations. In the afternoon, workshop participants will join one of three working groups for the purpose of collecting perspectives, refining ideas, and developing recommendations. Each of the groups will consider an application of spectrum monitoring and data within a particular focus area. The workshop will then reconvene and conclude with a full group discussion. The focus areas are:

Common objectives and outcomes for each focus group include: