As the seemingly insatiable appetite for spectrum continues apace, it is important to know how the spectrum is actually used. Indeed, a clear need exists for robust and authoritative information. As a centre of expertise in electronic communications, the European Communications Office (ECO) has been providing and developing, since 2002, a unique and high quality information tool on spectrum use and licensing conditions across Europe. The aim is to improve understanding and advance regulatory solutions for the future allocation of this scarce public resource.
In the April 2013 edition of this newsletter, we published an article highlighting the value of EFIS as a source of information on spectrum use in Europe. More than two years later, it is now time to guide you through the most significant developments we have implemented.
Why use EFIS?
The main benefit is simple: users of EFIS can save time. They do so by easily finding regulatory information as well as informative reports in relation to specific frequency ranges, radio services and applications. This includes information about the tables of frequency allocations and about the applications (national radio interfaces, individual rights-of-use (licenses) in the mobile bands in Europe).
Applicable Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) Deliverables on spectrum harmonisation can be selected and found in EFIS together with the related national implementation information. These include ECC Decisions, Recommendations and also CEPT and ECC Reports. In addition, Harmonised European Standards, mostly developed by ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, relevant documentation from the European Commission and national radio interfaces are also available in EFIS.
The system also contains proposals for future spectrum use through the availability of ETSI system reference documents. In addition, it provides a good overview on the actual spectrum use and the necessary spectrum inventory information for the many different radio services categories.
EFIS: A tool for spectrum inventory
EFIS plays a key role in the European Union’s spectrum inventory, which is part of the programme of initiatives set out in the EU Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP). In this context, in 2013, the ECC published CEPT Report 46 and CEPT Report 47 in response to a Mandate from the European Commission. These Reports identified areas for development of EFIS which would enable it to serve as a primary input to the spectrum inventory. In particular, CEPT Report 46 sets out the information considered essential for the different radio services and applications in this context. As a result, EFIS has been enhanced with the inclusion of complete and up-to-date information on licensing of mobile bands in Europe derived from the information provided by administrations in ECO Report 03.
Similarly, EFIS contains comprehensive information derived from ERC Recommendation 70-03 on Short Range Devices and related national implementation information. Thus, it includes information related to the vast majority of applications under general authorisations.
Another new feature in EFIS is the availability of all the fixed service channel arrangements, set out in approximately 25 different ECC/ERC Recommendations. They include the applicable national implementation information. Relevant graphical tools have also been developed to enhance and support the related content.
Into the bargain, improved information on Satellite Services and Private/Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) use has also been included. This supports administrations in their duties to provide information for these services for spectrum inventory purposes.
Information from CEPT questionnaires, notably in connection with EFIS’s role as the data collection point for the EU spectrum inventory, is also frequently made available in the system.
EFIS: A tool to visualise national table of frequency allocations and applications
The EFIS web-design and graphical user interface has been completely revamped and modernised. Graphical visualisations are available for:
Frequency allocations (see example below) and applications;
Rights-of-use information in the public mobile bands;
Short range device implementation status information;
Fixed service channel arrangements and the related national implementation information.
The tool can also be separately used outside the EFIS database on other webpages with the allocation and application terminology translated into the user’s national language. Consequently, administrations and users can generate pictures or use a link to the tool for parts of their national frequency allocations. Alternatively, they can link to applications tables and export them, show them on their own webpages or even use them as links in documents.
EFIS: A tool to generate reports on spectrum usage
New features have been implemented so that the user can process some of the data included in EFIS to match his purpose. A set of features is now available in conjunction with the EFIS implementation of ECO Report 03 containing the licence information in the mobile communication network frequency bands. The data contained in EFIS is then searchable, exportable and can be displayed through dedicated graphical visualisations.
It is thus feasible to extract statistics depending upon a range of criteria such as the country, the frequency band, the coverage type (national, regional or single transmitter), and information associated to the rights of use of the licensee (expiry date, start date or status). Depending on the query, the statistics can be displayed in a graphical format, as a table or a map (see below).
As Europe's central resource for spectrum information, EFIS is constantly evolving, not only in terms of the features and facilities it offers to users, administrations, industry and other ‘end users’, but also in respect of content.
A steadily increasing quantity of information now populates the database. The ECO and the EFIS/MG, in cooperation with the EC and other interested parties, will continue to improve quality and to protect the integrity of the data. It will ensure that strategic spectrum management goals in support of technological growth are met.
EFIS is also being developed to improve the efficiency of some ECC processes. The database will be used in the near future to provide users with a feature to download their version (all or selected content) of an always up-to-date ERC Recommendation 70-03 on Short Range Devices, which is the most downloaded document of all ECC deliverables.
In addition, a new ECO Report on Fixed Service implementation information, which is similar in its structure to ERC Recommendation 70-03, will be available through the EFIS platform. Plans are also in place to improve information on satellite services and Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) in EFIS in a similar manner in the near future.
In order to respond to the user’s needs, a number of new web-services will be developed. They will enable users to export more data and documentation together with the relevant frequency and radio service and application indication.
Facts and figures:
- The ECO Frequency Information System (EFIS) was launched in 2002.
- Some 45 CEPT administrations now publish data in EFIS, the scope of the content is wider and there are many more features and facilities.
- EFIS is available to the public on the Internet either via the ECC website, the ECO website or directly at e www.efis.dk.
- The EFIS website had over 100,000 visitors from around the globe in 2014, and in recent years the USA and China have become the top two countries performing searches in EFIS.
- EFIS is administered by the ECO and managed under the supervision of the ECC through its ECO Frequency Information System Maintenance Group (EFIS/MG).
EFIS project manager