Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Embargo Period

1-18-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Engineering and Public Policy

Advisor(s)

Marvin Sirbu

Second Advisor

Jon Peha

Abstract

Spectrum Aggregation (SA) technology has been introduced in cellular standards. Long Term Evolution (LTE)-Advanced is expected to allow aggregation of multiple Component Carriers (CC) to fulfill the high data rate requirement. This thesis, presents an exploratory study of spectrum aggregation technology. First, it analyzes the technology’s technical impact on wireless networks. Second, it estimates the costs and benefits of the SA technology when building out a wireless network. Then, it presents a study case to compare the feasibility of SA technology versus spectrum refarming. Furthermore, the thesis studies SA’s impact on valuation of spectrum by operators. Finally, it discusses the implications of SA on spectrum policies. Results show that LTE systems that use spectrum aggregation over fragmented blocks of spectrum can have better performance compared to Independent Carrier (IC) systems. In addition, aggregating carriers from multiple bands could permit the system to have a better performance in certain circumstances. Moreover, SA technology could have a positive impact on the benefits and costs of nationwide LTE networks. In a case study for using SA over fragmented spectrum in the TV band, the advantages and disadvantages of the use of the technology versus repacking the spectrum physically to create contiguous band are observed and discussed. After empirically studying operators’ willingness to pay for contiguous and low-frequency spectrum, simulation is used to measure the impact of SA on the operators’ valuation for spectrum blocks. Results show that the technology could lead to more linear valuation of spectrum units. Finally, SA impact on spectrum policies is studied and specific recommendations are given to regulators to help exploit fragmentation of spectrum through the technology and encourage fairer access to spectrum by competitors.

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