Tutorial: Wireless Spectrum and Radio Bands

Lesson 3 of CWA Course 2231 Wireless Fundamentals
20 minutes running time.

Every country has the sovereign right to manage energy at radio frequencies in its territory. When the airspace through which the radio waves travel is public property (which is most of the time), and there is contention for its use (which is all of the time), regulation is required to allow the rational use of the shared resource.



The range of radio frequencies, called the radio spectrum, is divided into blocks of frequencies allocated for different services. Allocations are divided into allotments, which are bands of frequencies assigned to specific users or to the public. A license to emit radio-frequency energy at the specified frequencies in a specified area is issued by government to record the assignment of the allotment and the conditions for its use.

… these lesson notes continue on page 19 of the CWA Study Guide.

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“Thank you again for such an informative class. It has given me a deeper understanding of the communication technology my program provides. This seminar helped me understand the basics of communication traffic signals and how they are labeled and transported across networks. I liked the logical layer upon layer approach to presenting the technical and complex communication environment. The instructor was nerdy in a fun and engaging way. I enjoyed his teaching style.”
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  • Wireless: spectrum, mobile networks, LTE, 5G, broadband wireless, Wi-Fi, satellite
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  • Copper: the PSTN, analog, POTS, DSL, Hybrid Fiber-Coax, LAN cables
  • Equipment: routers, Layer 2 switches, call managers / softswitches, legacy CO switches and PBXs, gateways
  • The OSI Model: the Layers, their purpose, implementation, how protocol stacks work
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In-Person January 17-21, Live Online January 24-28

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Join thousands of satisfied non-engineering professionals! Bust the buzzwords, demystify the jargon and understand today’s converged broadband IP telecommunications, the technologies and services, the underlying ideas, and how it all fits together.

Stay focused, engaged and learn with a professional instructor.

Eliminate lack-of-knowledge embarrassment. Be more confident with a solid base of telecommunications knowledge you can build on, from fundamentals to IoT and everything between.

Specifically designed for non-engineers, Teracom’s renowned telecommunications training is organized into two courses back-to-back to make a full week called BOOT CAMP:
Course 101: Broadband, Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers, then
Course 130: Voice over IP, SIP, Security, 5G and IoT.

  • Some people, needing a comprehensive base in telecom, attend only the core training Course 101 the first three days, and get the included CTNS Certification.
  • Others, who already have a base, attend Course 130 the last two days for VoIP, the Security module, 5G and IoT with examples like Smart Cities, and get the included CVA Certification.
  • Most people attend all five days, designated as Course 111 BOOT CAMP, to get the most comprehensive and highest quality telecommunications training available, at a discounted price, with three TCO Certifications included: CTNS, CVA and the prestigious TCO CTA Certification.

Register for BOOT CAMP

More information on BOOT CAMP

Printable BOOT CAMP brochure

This is an easy sell with management.  Your increase in productivity and accuracy will over time far outweigh the cost of a week’s training.  Plus, you get bonus online courses and certification, and high quality printed course books.

Here’s a cut-and-paste training request template to submit for approval.

Here’s a sampling of student evaluations from recent classes:

“Awesome course, really. Just very, very good.”
  – Tim Wilson, Ciena

“Thank you guys so much, this class was amazing! I would take this all over again!”
– Austin Thompson, NHC

“Since I am very new to telecom, this helped me connect the dots, the different layers and terminology. I liked that it followed the printed workbooks very closely so I could read the summaries after the lessons. The instructor was great. He kept it light, added some jokes to keep it entertaining. I liked most when he did drawings with his explanations.”
  – Ashley Brinkman, Marketing Manager, MTA, Palmer Alaska

“The course was very beneficial for me.  I wish I would have been able to take this class a few years back when I first started!”
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“I had some of the basics; this class filled gaps and added much more depth. Instructor Richard was open to questions at any time, and revisited topics until we got it. Having the notes in the printed course book to follow along and add to was very helpful. Richard was very passionate about the course material and had great real-life examples.”
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Tutorial: Mobile Operators, MVNOs and Roaming

Extracted from Chapter 9 of the Telecom 101 reference book.
Note: acronyms and abbreviations used below are explained in lessons leading up to this one.

9.7 Mobile Operators, MVNOs and Roaming

9.7.1 Mobile Network Operator

Mobile Network Operator (MNO) is the term usually used to refer to a facilities-based carrier, i.e. a company that owns base stations, a mobile switch, backhaul between them, and spectrum licenses, and sells services to the public… and to other carriers.

The MNO implements external links to other carriers for PSTN phone calls and for Internet traffic.

For PSTN phone calls, the MNO implements a fiber optic connection to a building traditionally called a Toll Center or Class 4 switching office. The termination of their fiber in that building is called a POP. It is their physical point of presence in the building.

Many other carriers have POPs in the building, including the ILEC, IXCs, CATV companies, other mobile carriers, and any other company that wants to connect phone calls to a phone on the MNO’s network.

The operator of the toll center, usually the ILEC, provides a switch in the Toll Center to switch phone calls from one carrier’s POP to a different carrier’s POP.

For Internet access, the MNO implements a fiber optic connection to one or more Internet Exchange buildings, where they pay the operator of the IX to route packets to other carriers with whom the MNO has established IP packet transit and peering arrangements.

9.7.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operator

Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is the term used to refer to a non-facilities-based carrier… one that does not own the hardware or spectrum licenses or POPs.

Instead, the MVNO enters into a long-term contract with one or more facilities-based carriers to have them supply a “white label” service that the MVNO sells.

Typically the MVNO will develop a unique branding and sell smartphones and tablets to go along with its service.

When the MVNO deals exclusively with one carrier, the MVNO bill to the customer would be typically generated by the facilities-based carrier as a white-label service.

If the MVNO is very large and deals with multiple carriers, the MVNO may operate their own billing system, which is a significant investment.

The facilities-based carrier charges to the MVNO includes a volume-discount rate for IP addresses and Internet traffic, voice-minute airtime and switched access to the POP for PSTN phone calls.

The MVNO also has to pay for connectivity from the POP to other toll centers for “long-distance” connections, and the switched-access charge at the far end.

The rate plan the MVNO pays could be a mix of fixed-rate leases and usage-based billing.

Unless the MNO is obliged to sell capacity to MVNOs through regulations and tariffs, the nature of the plan is confidential business information.

9.7.3 Roaming

Roaming service is very similar to the service provided to MVNOs, in that it is the MNO that is providing the airlink, base stations, backhaul, mobile switch and connections to the PSTN and Internet.

In the case of roaming, the visitor uses their own phone, and billing is usage-based.

Roaming is an important feature for smaller players: they are facilities-based in selected cities, but to offer a national and international service to their customers, they must have roaming agreements in place with MNOs in other locations.

By denying roaming service to smaller or startup carriers, or charging an exorbitant price for roaming, an incumbent carrier can erect a barrier against competition.

In many countries, the right to roam and the wholesale cost of roaming is regulated to encourage competition.


These topics are covered in:

CTNS Study Guide – Hardcover and Softcover Now available!

The CTNS Study Guide corresponds exactly to the CTNS courses, with detailed notes plus knowledge objectives and summaries for every lesson.

Now available in a beautiful high-quality hardcover edition, a pleasure to  hold, plus the traditional more compact softcover format.

Softcover is in stock and ships right away.

Note: Hardcovers are printed one at a time, just for you, adding 15 days to delivery time.  The quality of the cover and binding is worth the wait!

Of course the eBook version is also available through our online partners.