BTP-SXM publishes LTE consultation

11 Oct 2013

The Bureau of Telecommunication and Post of Sint Maarten (BTP-SXM) has published a consultation document regarding the use of spectrum for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the Caribbean nation. Given the close proximity of French territories Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy, and Anguilla, the BPT-SXM has stressed that coordination between the countries is ‘essential’. Historically, the spectrum policy of Saint-Martin – which shares a land-mass with Sint Maarten – has been more closely aligned with the spectrum policy and band plans used in France, while Anguilla has followed more closely North American spectrum plans. The BTP-SXM notes that Sint Maarten has always opted for a mixture of both plans in order to offer roaming agreements for multiple markets. Since 2006 a frequency coordination agreement between Anguilla, France and the countries formerly comprising the Netherlands Antilles has been in place to resolve such issues.

Key issues under discussion include:

• The use of an ‘extended’ 900MHz band, which will add 2×10MHz in the 900MHz range and allow cost-efficient 2G/3G/4G networks for local mobile operators;

• The mooted adoption of the European 800MHz band (band 20) to align spectrum usage with Saint-Martin. On the plus side, this plan would allow Sint Maarten’s cellcos to benefit from the 800MHz band, although the remainder of the 850MHz downlink band will be rendered difficult to use as a result. However, a small part of the band might still be possible to deploy if used with appropriate filtering (i.e. 824MHz-832MHz, 869MHz-877MHz duplex). Aligned use of the 850MHz band in all three territories is not deemed to be a realistic option;

• The consideration to adopt the Asia-Pacific 700MHz standard, rather than that endorsed by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In the mid-term this move could lead to the creation of a better ecosystem, including more low cost smartphones; and

• Above 1GHz the full 1800MHz (2×75MHz blocks), 2100MHz (2×60MHz blocks) and the 2600MHz (2×70MHz blocks) are all said to be available for Frequency Division Duplex (FDD)-LTE, while the 2300MHz band and up to 50MHz of 2600MHz spectrum can be used for Time Division Duplex (TDD)-LTE. Although the 2300MHz band is currently used for WiMAX, in-band migration to TDD-LTE is said to be a logical scenario. The BTP-SXM considers the 2600MHz band suitable for providing additional capacity at ‘high traffic locations’. Multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS, also known as ‘wireless cable’) use of the 2600MHz band on Sint Maarten has reportedly been phased out following the introduction of DVB-T, but the band is still used by some WiMAX providers.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 1 November 2013.

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