One of the main issues in the developing of 5G technologies is the limited amount of an available spectrum. The industry is trying to find solutions to resolve this problem.
Among multiple methods to cope with scarcity of available spectrum, two directions seem very promising. They are:
- Intensification of utilization already occupied spectrum windows
- Identification and utilization of vacant (or almost vacant) spectrum windows.
This report addresses only the second approach; and particular it concentrates on the following technologies:
- Optical Wireless Communications (OWC)
- a) VLC - Visible Light Communication
- b) FSF - Free Space Fiber
- TV White Space Communications (TVWSC).
OWC includes VLC and FSF. Both these technologies utilize non-occupied (or more precisely, very lightly occupied) frequency spectrum.
TVWSC became possible after transition of analog TV to digital when a significant portion of previously occupied spectrum has been freed.
OWC is widely recognized as superior to radio frequency (RF) transmission for several use cases. Visible and invisible optical wireless links solve first/last mile connectivity problems, serve for signal distribution inside of premises, and provide secure, jam-free communication. OWC is license-free and can potentially deliver high-speed data rates in the order of tens Gb/s. Its advantages have fostered significant research efforts aimed at utilizing optical wireless communication, e.g. VLC, for high-speed, secure, indoor/outdoor communication under the IEEE 802.15.7 and other standards; as well as FSF for indoor and outdoor communications.
Both technologies are using free space as a communications medium; though they utilize such a medium in different ways and have both similar and specific communications channel properties.
TVWSC is another example how the industry makes the spectrum utilization more efficient. Though this technology, so far, did not receive expected popularity due, mostly, to regulatory barriers, it shows potentials in improvements of the RF spectrum utilization.
The report is analyzing OWC and TVWS technologies specifics, market features and industry expectations how they will contribute in the 5G development. It also analyzes the industries, advanced products and their applications.
The related standards are analyzed in details. Attachments present the survey of resent patents related to TVWS, IEEE802.22 and IEEE 802.11af and IEEE802.15.7.
The report was developed for a wide audience of engineers and managers that are working with advanced communications technologies.