Collaborative Spectrum Sharing

Tackle the expected capacity crunch of wireless networks through novel decentralised spectrum management approaches.


The goal of this prize was to develop a radical solution to unblock the expected capacity crunch of wireless networks, by providing alternative and decentralised spectrum management approaches.

The €500,000 award for innovation in collaborative spectrum sharing went to a team led by the Centre for Telecommunications Research of King's College London (UK), whose DISTRIBUTE spectrum sharing solution could improve spectral efficiency by more than 30% in certain cases, like the sub-GHz frequency spectrum.

The winning team also included Turku University of Applied Sciences(FI), Queen Mary University of London (UK), Fairspectrum (FI) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.

Collaborative spectrum sharing

This application presented a groundbreaking solution that distributes the database among the communicating wireless communication devices and network nodes—such that the database can be run without having to develop a new central entity. This is a highly novel approach that frees-up the infrastructure and functions, supporting spectrum sharing and improves spectral efficiency dramatically.

Five applications were competing to win the prize. A high-level expert group with independent top-class experts from science and academia in the area of spectrum technology evaluated the applications. The prize was awarded by Commissioner G.H. Oettinger on November 9th, 2016 during the 2nd Global 5G Event in Rome, Italy.

Rules & Guidance

Who can join the contest?

The contest will be open to SMEs or non-profit organisations established in an EU Member State or in countries associated with Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, acting alone or together with other entities which are part of the same team.

How will your application be evaluated?

Once the contest is closed, a high-level jury will evaluate all eligible entries against the following general award criteria:

  • The solution is arrived at by the contestant(s), with a substantial part based on experimental results.
  • The solution demonstrates innovative technology or methods that have the potential to unlock access to spectrum for all stakeholders. As a minimum, these have to be based on non-traditional spectrum management methodologies and demonstrate feasibility of pure collaborative decentralised methods based on terminal level information or collaboration.
  • The solution demonstrates a significant improvement over the state of the art technologies in terms of shared spectrum usage metrics. As a minimum, this will address:
    • Full system level evaluation, with maximisation of number of users sharing a portion of spectrum. Benefit and efficiency covers the full system perspective, including technological aspects and required sharing policy. Optimisation of single parameter only or limited set thereof (spectral efficiency in bps/Hz or spatial efficiency in bps/Hz/m²) is not deemed sufficient;
    • Evaluation results must be based on realistic use case scenarios in terms of statistical service mix and of user distribution and motion over the area where spectrum sharing is considered. The system perspective includes the performance penalties imposed by operational conditions, i.e. signalling overhead or interference effects;
    • Under similar use case scenarios, technologies and systems currently deployed or being standardised (3G/4G systems) are shown to be significantly less efficient by a factor of at least 20%
  • The contestant(s) provide evidence of how the solution could be made economically viable (i.e. can be implemented at reasonable cost) and acceptable from a policy perspective. Studies based only on theory and/or simulation, as well as studies based on only a proof-of-principle work or such very early research prototypes will not be deemed competitive.
  • The contestant(s) have the capability and plan to demonstrate the solution in larger-scale or as a part of possible test beds.

The prize will be awarded to the entry that demonstrates the best solution to the challenge whilst meeting the award criteria. The solution should be both developed by the contestant and be novel.

Read the detailed rules of the contest


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