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Innovation in spectrum allocation key to unlocking full 5G potential

May 13, 2019

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – May 13, 2019 – Without further innovation in spectrum allocation and more efficient resource management and interconnection, mobile networks will struggle to cope with the demands triggered by the explosion of services and solutions enabled by 5G network technology, says iconectiv, world leaders in telephone numbering and administration.

During a panel discussion at the Connect (X) conference in Orlando, FL., Gary Richenaker, Principal Solutions Architect, iconectiv, will discuss the industry’s decision to maximize spectrum allocation so that the full benefits of 5G mobile technology is realized. This is made possible by enabling more specialist networks and service providers to utilize existing E.212 International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) resources to enable full network interconnectivity.

“While 5G networks promise fresh and exciting solutions for businesses and consumers – be it connected cars, the IoT, or advanced video and data services - delivering these services efficiently requires us to look more imaginatively at the way we allocate and manage a finite IMSI resource for maximum benefit,” Richenaker said.

One way the industry is addressing this demand is to permit the use of shared or unlicensed spectrum to lower the cost of entry and allow non-traditional service providers to launch mobile networks. As an example, the CBRS Alliance – an industry body focused on the Citizens Band Radio Services (CBRS) – is already actively supporting the development and commercialization of CBRS spectrum for 4G and 5G mobile services in buildings, public spaces and industrial IoT environments.

Large venues such as business parks, college campuses, sports arenas or shopping malls could use this spectrum to augment their own networks and introduce new services. However, they require IMSI resources to enable interconnection.

Interconnection key to maximize spectrum and support demand

All around the world, the mobile industry uses a unique 15-digit numbering system – known as the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) – to identify mobile subscribers. The IMSI enables any mobile operator to provide a connection to any device from any other operator worldwide and is the commercial and technical heartbeat of the global mobile ecosystem.

The first six digits of the IMSI, known as the Home Network Identity (HNI), identify the country and the mobile operator. The remaining digits identify the individual subscriber. Bringing all the CBRS networks into the global ecosystem requires all those networks to adopt a recognized public resource; IMSIs. However, the sheer volume of potential CBRS networks would quickly consume all the available HNI network codes.

In the United States, iconectiv administers the HNI portion of the IMSI resource on behalf of the Department of State and the ATIS IMSI Oversight Committee (IOC). Richenaker will outline to delegates at Connect X the innovative plans to enable all the potential CBRS networks in utilizing a shared HNI.

“Each network has to be identified independently for interconnection to be efficiently supported,” Richenaker said. “The original structure of the global IMSI system was designed around a relatively small number of networks each supporting a relatively large number of subscribers. These new CBRS networks, however, will effectively operate in reverse – where a large number of small operators each supporting a few thousand subscribers.”

“The new approach,” he explained, “involves creating a shared HNI code for all the potential new entrants and thereby splitting the Mobile Station Identification Number (MSIN) into two parts – four to identify the CBRS network and five to identify the subscriber. That means each CBRS network code could still support up to 100,000 individually identifiable subscribers.”

Using this approach, every CBRS network could efficiently be integrated into the global mobile ecosystem given the proper interconnection agreements.

“By utilizing the IMSI resource in this manner we can really unlock the potential spectrum – such as CBRS – to be used for fully connected LTE and 5G networks,” he says. “There’s no doubt that bringing that spectrum efficiently into the LTE family is the best way to deliver the coverage, capacity and capability that the users are going to demand.”