Q1: What is the Spectrum Management and Measurement System (SMMS)?
The SMMS is an administrative, regulatory and supervisory tool used by administrations to efficiently regulate the use of frequencies , implement the National frequency plan, issue licenses , limit interference between users and reduce the illegal use of frequencies. The TRA is legally mandated to fulfill these tasks based on the prerogatives entrusted to it by Law 431.
The SMMS automatically identifies the source of emission and frequency and intruders in the low and measures the spectrum occupancy on the high frequency bands.
The general specifications and functions of this system have been defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which regulates the frequencies between States and plays a vital role in the global management of the radio frequency spectrum, defines the general rules of frequency usage to ensure the rights of States, and requires from governments the registration of their used frequencies at the Union (ITU).
Q2: What does the SMMS consist of?
The Spectrum Management and Measurement System (SMMS) that the Authority intends to implement in Lebanon consists of:
a) a system for managing and analyzing the spectrum
b) a system for measuring the spectrum
These two systems are complementary and together constitute a full-system for managing and controlling frequencies.
The SMMS is a:
- central computer equipped with a special program to analyze frequencies,
- database of licensed frequencies,
- specific software dedicated to analyze wave propagation, plan frequency assignment for different services and determine the transmission characteristics,
- software tool used for interference analysis, identification of spectrum occupancy, frequency distribution and the development of a National frequency plan
The SMMS consists of various stations that could be fixed, mobile or portable used to measure signal and transmission characteristics. Each station has spectrum measurement and analysis features covering different frequency bands.
The SMMS that the TRA intends to install consists of 4 to 6 fixed stations and 4 mobile stations equipped with a direction finding system distributed all over the Lebanese territory and will be deployed over several phases. The first phase, which is planned in the near future consists of the deployment of two fixed and mobile stations to cover Beirut and Mount Lebanon, where the frequency usage is extremely high.
Q3: What is the role of SMMS?
The SMMS role is limited to the below:
- measuring the electromagnetic radiation of different frequencies
- analyzing the signal to determine the transmission characteristics, radiation power, spectrum occupancy and its impact on health through the determination of electromagnetic radiation intensity.
Note that the use of spectrum includes the following wireless services:
- licensed commercial telecommunication services (mobile and data transfer, etc.)
- Communications related to security parties (army and Internal Security Forces)
- Radio and television broadcasting
- Civil Aviation
Moreover, the broadcasting sector will benefit from this system through its role in completing the broadcasting frequency plan for FM and TV. The effective usage of this system in managing radio frequency spectrum will helpin meeting the needs of governmental and public institutions as well as security and military forces, and in protecting the used frequencies from harmful interference.
This system will assist the TRA in resolving interference problems and in coordinating with neighboring countries in order to register frequencies in the International Telecommunication Union. Therefore, it enables Lebanon to fulfill its international obligations and to preserve its rights in the use of frequencies. This system will be the main element to combat illegal use of frequencies and thus protect the licensed spectrum by identifying sources of interference and illegal use of frequencies.
Q4: Why does the Authority need the SMMS?
This system is considered to be the only mean that will enable the Authority to complete its prerogative set in Law 431/2002 to efficiently manage the radio frequency spectrum. The SMMS functions include:
- Planning of different frequency bands
- Building a national frequency plan
- Building a license database
- Studying the distribution of stations and identifying their characteristics
- Determining spectrum fees
- issuing licenses.
As for the functions of the spectrum measurement station, they include:
- Measurement of the technical parameters including power transmission, modulation, occupied bandwidth, harmonic emissions and interference;
- Measurement of spectrum occupancy as well as the direction and location of the transmission sites;
- Signal analysis, radio coverage and bandwidth measurement;
- Identification of any transmitters causing interference and their locations;
- Monitoring the transmission to ensure compliance with frequency license conditions;
- Performing drive tests to measure the field strength/coverage on the road;
- Conducting technical and scientific studies (analyze radiation, Quality of service etc..) by measuring frequencies, field strengths and power flux density and radio emission
- Measuring the compliance of transmission with public health conditions
- Collecting and storing monitoring data and ensuring its compliance with frequency licence conditions.
Q5: Is there a similar system in Lebanon?
The Ministry of Telecommunications had established a similar system in the past. This system was purchased from a French company, and includes one mobile station, 3 fixed stations and one control center. Two fixed stations were installed at the premises of the ministry in Souk El Gharb and Mar Elias (Hamat/Batroun) while the third was installed in Baourta at the premises of one of the two mobile companies. However, this system did not work properly in the past, due to some problems with the French manufacturer that could not be resolved. It should be noted that upon taking over of the frequency management responsibilities (effective 1-9-2007), the Authority had sent several correspondences to the Ministry of Telecommunications requesting the placement of these equipment at the disposal of the Authority, in order to complete its prerogative in accordance with the Telecom law 431/2002, but without avail.
The Authority had also explored the possibility of adopting the same sites for installing the SMMS because of their strategic location and in order to save public money.
Besides the system available at the Ministry of Telecommunications , there is a possibility of the availability of a similar system within the UNIFEL currently operating in Lebanon to coordinate the use of frequencies between its different working groups.
Q6: Who finances the SMMS?
Because of the Authority‘s limited financial resources and due to the extreme importance of acquiring such a system by the Republic of Lebanon, the Authority has sought, since the commencement of its duties, to seek financial resources from various international institutions.
The authority’s efforts came to success when USAID committed to fund the first phase of the system, which consists of a fixed and a portable station in addition to an equipped car to be used as a mobile station. With respect to the remaining phases, the financing sources have not been identified yet, but the Authority is trying to increase this grant or to seek funding from other donors such as the European Union, the World Bank, the International Telecommunications Union, and allied countries. These efforts will continue in case of the government’s delay in securing the necessary funding to successfully complete the system, which is the basic tool for managing the spectrum.
Q7: Can the SMMS be used for other purposes than intended, such as for intercepting or eavesdropping?
The system specifications set by the Authority do not allow for any interception or eavesdropping on wireless communications, as the system’s function is limited to measuring the electromagnetic characteristics and radiation. It is worth mentioning that there is a law in Lebanon, law 99/140, that regulates and sets out procedures for eavesdropping, interception and control of phone calls(although the authority is not involved in this matter).
Q8: Who will operate the SMMS?
Following the Authority’s issuance of a request for proposal specifying the technical requirements and implementation phases of the system in coordination with USAID, a group of experts from the Authority (specifically the Spectrum Management Section) will proceed with the full operation of the system immediately upon its installation. It should be noted that the system training will be conducted in parallel with the installation phase in order to allow the authority’s members to fully operate the system with all its functionalities as soon as it’s received.
Q9: What are the security measures that can be taken to implement the SMMS or other similar systems?
The TRA was and remains keen to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the system is not exploited for purposes other than what it was intended to, which can be summarized in the authority’s role to:
- identify the general specifications of the project to ensure efficient management of frequencies
- develop the technical and operational plan for the project, which includes the technical specifications for fixed and mobile stations in addition to the specifications of the control center
- establish the technical RFP which defines the specifications and conditions that determine the work plan and the timeframe for installation
- develop the measurement standards for the equipment acceptance test after the installation and operation process,
- identifying the locations of the fixed monitoring stations and the specifications of equipment and antennas, in addition to determining the functions of each station,
- Setting a function table for each station that specifies the measurements that must be carried out all day long and the engineering analysis of electromagnetic field density
- Determining the technical specifications for the network equipment and microwave links that will to be installed between the measuring stations and the control center,
- Training the team in charge of managing and controlling the spectrum to insure its ability to independently perform the various functions,
- Deciding on the final acceptance of the system after making sure it meets the specified requirements,
- Supervising the installation of stations and ensuring conformity with the RFP specifications ,
- Performing all operational and regulatory functions of the system after installation,
- Continuously operating and maintaining the system and undergoing regular training.
Q10: Do any other Regulatory Authorities possess such a system and equipment?
This system is used in almost all countries to ensure effective radio frequency spectrum management, due to the fact that the spectrum represents one of the national rare resources. Therefore, the spectrum must be efficiently and used in accordance to the technical requirements stated in the issued licenses, in order to avoid jamming and interference that will harm the public safety as well as the licensed operators.
Q11: What are the benefits of using such a system? Who are the beneficiaries of this system and who are the parties against acquiring such a system in the country?
The Lebanese Republic, through enabling the Authority to acquire this system (in application of the law and as the official Authority delegated to manage, control and regulate the frequencies) will:
- Allow the Authority and thus the Lebanese Government to efficiently manage a rare national resource
- Help in developing the national economy through:
- Reassuring the investors by ensuring the protection of their rights and licenses
- Introducing new resources to the public treasury through the issuance of new licenses and services such as broadband services and the international mobile services
- Implementing a radio and television broadcasting plan that will help in resolving the issues related to overlapping and coordination with neighboring countries to register the frequencies at the International Telecommunications Union, and therefore allowing Lebanon to meet its international obligations and preserve its rights to use the frequencies.
- Protecting the licensed frequencies from overlapping and interference, and controlling unauthorized frequency usage.
Q12: What is the total cost of the project and what are the stages of its implementation?
The total cost of the project may exceed 11 million dollars. As for the first phase, its cost is estimated to reach approximately three million U.S. dollars.
Q13: Is there an available list of the countries that use such a system?
This system is being used by most countries and Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities since it is the only tool that allows efficient spectrum management and ensures the legal usage of frequencies without any interference.
Following is a list of some countries that use similar systems: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Oman, Bahrain, Iran, United Kingdom, Senegal, Malaysia, Singapore, Venezuela, Jamaica, Botswana ... and others.
Q14: What are the grant conditions, its value , the delivery date, specifications, the importation conditions and tax charges, the locations that will be used along with the selection criteria, the training programs, and the process for coordinating with other administrations?
The value of the grant is three million U.S. dollars, and it only requires ensuring the system’s functionality once implemented and requesting the Authority’s efforts in securing further funds in order to complete the first phase of the project in case the grant was not sufficient. The grant amount is entitled to cover the costs of implementation, installation and training and does not include any taxes or customs charges.
Therefore, following the Council of Ministers’ approval of this fund, The Authority should request the exemption from paying taxes or any other charges from the Lebanese Government.
Finally, it should be noted that any coordination with other administrations and organizations must be exclusively approved by the Authority and in the presence of its representatives. In fact, The Authority is the party who identified the initial and final specifications of the system, evaluated the submitted proposals and selected the locations of the fixed stations. It also assigned a team of specialists to oversee the project’s implementation. This team is headed by the Board Member and head of Telecommunications Technologies Unit, Dr. Imad Youssef Hoballah and assisted by three of the Authority’s Experts: Engineer Mohammed Mustafa Ayoub, Engineer Hassan Dhainy, and Engineer Daniel Hamadeh.