The historical impetus for DSO was the need to open up swaths of the radio spectrum utilised for low value uses, e.g. free to air analogue TV, and repurpose it, for higher value uses such as mobile broadband communications.
Market dynamics and technological changes worked in favour of that trend, especially in higher income countries which needed urgently more spectrum for commercially viable 4G mobile communication services. This trend was reinforced by the growth on subscribership of multichannel paid TV services, delivered not only through cable, but increasingly, via DBS and direct to home (DTH) satellite technology. At the time, few foresaw the forces we see today reshaping the competitive landscape for the delivery of paid multichannel TV and OTT video streaming services.
How can Universal Mobile Broadband be enabled?
Radio sweet spot for mobile application has long been identified as the UHF part of the radio spectrum, most notably its sub-1GHz portion. More recently, under the 5G banner, 3.5GHz, 5GHz, 28GHz and higher bands seem to have been replacing it to the extent that even misleading claims are made with respect to their radio propagation characteristics in the 5G marketing materials. For sure, the aforementioned bands will make the ITU-R/3GPP IMT-2020 specified target speeds achievable, however, these bands are unlikely to make the nominees list for providing universal mobile broadband at an economically acceptable level.
The viability of providing universal speeds that enable delivering linear and on-demand video contents would depend on the availability of large bandwidth in the sub-1GHz.
What future holds for DSO?
DSO implementation is not a straight forward matter and attempting to dissect its fate would culminate in some controversial pros and cons. However, for “Universal Mobile Broadband” to offer speeds that enable delivering high quality video streaming (linear or on demand) large bandwidth in the sub-1GHz would be required.
Furthermore, more options have become available for the delivery of paid multichannel TV. While this has not diminished the need to clear parts of the radio spectrum assigned to analogue TV, it might have diminished the appeal for DTT service. Said in a different way, while the need for the ASO is still present, the appeal for DSO is perhaps diminishing.
We should also look back and remind ourselves of the ”2G, 3G, and 4G” deployment/migration conundrum in the last decade; are we not witnessing the same for “ASO, DSO, and DD”? What can be concluded is that DSO will be implemented but not in all of the remaining 150 countries due to a variety of reasons.
It is, therefore, imperative that some sample countries are selected with diversity and variety across the domains touched on in this digest and other driving factors to appraise the issues and develop appropriate frameworks.