24th European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunication Society, Florence, Italy, 20-23 October 2013
Unlicensed spectrum indeed initiates high-data rate wireless services with the combination of the great success of Wi-Fi technology. Interestingly, the local high data rate services are deployed and invested by non-traditional local actors, e.g., facility owners who have local fixed line infrastructure. Motivated by the great success of the Wi-Fi eco-system, there are growing interests from various regulatory initiatives on short-range indoor shared spectrum access to continuously foster new business innovations and local investment by new players. Despite of flexible spectrum access and almost no regulatory management overhead, it is still not so clear that the traditional unlicensed approach can work for future high-capacity services where require extremely denser deployment than today. In this paper, we aim to discuss the validity of the traditional unlicensed approach for the new local operators in an economic aspect. We evaluate the required deployment cost of conventional Wi-Fi system and compare it with a hypothetical cellular-like system with marginal regulatory coordination. We found that the traditional node-level etiquettes in unlicensed band work as system design constraints, leading to too conservative full distributed systems. Although the current unlicensed band approach is the lowest cost solution for relatively low-capacity services, it may not be work at future high-capacity provisioning. Thus, regulations need to be designed to allow more coordinated systems such as cellular-like technologies with certain inter-network regulation.