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Dynamic Spectrum Sharing: How It Works & Why It Matters

Wondering about how dynamic spectrum sharing works for 4G and 5G networks? We explain what dynamic spectrum sharing is and how it works.

What Is Dynamic Spectrum Sharing?

Dynamic spectrum sharing refers to an antenna technology that allows 4G LTE and 5G cellular wireless technologies to be used in the same frequency band, while dynamically allocating bandwidth based on user demand.

Why DSS Matters

DSS technology will allow cellular networks to serve 5G service without physically upgrading their radios. This will help usher in the “5G future” faster and allow mobile network operators to participate in 5G without purchasing new radios.

Rather than sending out technicians to replace radios on every cell tower, many DSS upgrades can be made remotely through a series of software updates. While cellular networks will inevitably have to purchase new radios, DSS lets mobile network operators offer 5G services without spending millions on infrastructure upgrades.

How Does Dynamic Spectrum Sharing Work?

Dynamic spectrum sharing works by broadcasting 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G New Radio (NR) cellular wireless over the same frequency. DSS technology automatically allocates cellular resources between the two networks based on demand. This allows mobile network operators to slowly allocate more spectrum resources to new technology as more users switch to 5G.

4G LTE and 5G NR use vastly different systems to synchronize across the wireless network. In order for DSS to work, both technologies need to cooperate in tandem. DSS can use two techniques to solve this problem, multicast-broadcast single frequency network (MBSFN) and non-MBSFN.


MBSFN allows the LTE spectrum to be used as a broadcast and multicast network. This feature has been a part of LTE for years but can be used to help DSS work. MBSFN can block out certain subframes or periods of time in which 5G can broadcast.


The other option takes advantage of the fact that in some 5G deployments, information can be inserted between the LTE signals. Known as rate adaptation, this technique injects the LTE frame with 5G synchronization signal block (SSB) information.

The alternative to DSS would require the network operator to split their spectrum in half through a technique called static refarming. For example, an operator with 30MHz of spectrum would have to assign 15MHz to 4G LTE and use the other half for 5G. This leaves both networks with less spectrum availability in total, impacting the performance of both networks.

Operators can choose to purchase more spectrum, but obtaining licensing can be quite expensive and time-consuming. DSS lets operators use their existing spectrum to serve both 4G and 5G customers.

Drawbacks of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing

Fortunately, the pros outweigh the cons in most cases when it comes to dynamic spectrum sharing. Currently, DSS slightly impacts the performance of both 4G LTE and 5G NR by approximately 25% and 15% respectively. This performance reduction is often well worth having the full spectrum available for both networks.

Lastly, older LTE devices will not be able to use DSS networks using MBSFN since they cannot interpret the subframes used. Newer LTE devices that support beamforming will be able to do so without any problems.

Benefits of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing


Enabling 5G through DSS helps commercial carriers reduce the cost of upgrading their service. Organizations can leverage their existing infrastructure to roll out 5G NR in a cost-effective and predictable way.


DSS allows 5G to reach more users without forcing mobile network operators to physically upgrade their equipment. This helps 5G reach more users faster than traditional radio hardware upgrades. On the other hand, this also improves the speed and performance of 5G NR devices on the DSS network, as those devices can now take advantage of the new 5G service.

LTE Advantages

The optimization and additional frequency allocation DSS uses helps improve the experience for 4G LTE users. LTE devices should experience better data rates and benefit from increased bandwidth.

Can Businesses Use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing?

Here at Celona, we work with enterprise organizations to pick the best cellular wireless technology for the relevant use cases and help plan, design, build and manage private 4G LTE / 5G NR cellular infrastructure.

With Celona, building your own private cellular network is as simple as setting up an enterprise network. Dynamic spectrum sharing is just another piece of technology for private networks that will contribute to ease of accessibility.

The Celona Solution

Celona provides private cellular networks as a seamless turnkey solution and partners with enterprise organizations to tackle their latest generation of wireless connectivity challenges.

Celona’s 5G LAN solution is designed to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience, deployed alongside existing enterprise network infrastructure.

If you’re looking to enable private cellular connectivity for your latest generation of critical applications and digital initiatives, check out our marketing leading 5G LAN solution via product demonstrations and a free trial.

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