Need connectivity? Need spectrum! Measuring radio frequency spectrum utilization in the Philippines
Wireless communication systems such as mobile cellular, wireless local area networks, telecommunication satellites, TV broadcasts, etc. use the radio frequency (RF) spectrum, which is a limited resource, to provide coverage and service. With many Filipinos being reliant on wireless technology for connectivity, there is a need to ensure that the underlying infrastructure and policies, such as for the management of RF spectrum, are highly responsive to this large and growing demand. In the Philippines, quantitative measurements of spectrum utilization and signal availability or coverage of wireless communication networks are not being measured in a systematic and consistent way that generates relevant data for supporting sound technical solutions and policy decisions addressing rural connectivity and the digital divide. In this presentation, we discuss our current efforts in devising and implementing tools for conducting quantitative distributed measurements of radio frequency spectrum utilization and signal analysis that build up a new and rich information infrastructure. Such infrastructure is intended to support, among others, the promulgation of effective spectrum management policies and practices for achieving digital inclusion in the Philippines. In particular, our work features the design and implementation of signal processing algorithms on software-defined-radio (SDR), platforms for measuring the radio frequency (RF) spectrum used for wireless broadcasting and telecommunications services. Our methods intend to go beyond energy detection schemes and also target complex, higher-order statistical processing algorithms (such as feature detection) and parametric signal analysis that lead to richer information on utilization and quality of spectrum resources. We give an example of a spectrum measurement campaign in the UHF band over the western segment of the Philippine Nautical Highway System (PNHS). In addition, we present an attempt to build a spectrum monitoring system in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), as a possible payload in the International Space Station. This payload is intended to measure terrestrial radio frequency utilization from space – generating data that can lead to better comprehension of the scale of the global digital divide, which may be used to inform relevant policies and interventions.