Kevin Werbach and Greg Staple have a great article in this month’s IEEE Spectrum on the myths surrounding spectrum scarcity and how new software-based systems could allow much more usage of current spectrum with changes in regulation.
“From cellphones to police scanners, from TV sets to garage-door openers, virtually every wireless device depends upon access to the radio frequency wireless spectrum.
Ever since RF transmissions were first regulated in the early 20th century, access to spectrum has been chronically limited. ThatÇƒÙs all about to change. New technologies that use spectrum more efficiently and more cooperatively, unleashed by regulatory reforms, may soon overcome the spectrum shortage.
Since the 1920s, regulators have assumed that new transmitters will interfere with other uses of the radio spectrum. Hence, every wireless system has required an exclusive license from the government. With virtually all usable radio frequencies already licensed to commercial operators and government entities, the result has been, in the words of former U.S. Federal Communications Commission chair William Kennard, a “spectrum drought.” WeÇƒÙve become accustomed to seeing every new commercial service–from satellite broadcasting to wireless local-area networks–compete for licenses with numerous existing users, including thhe government, all of which guard their spectrum jealously.
That world is coming to an end. At least in the United States, new technologies and regulatory forms may soon free enough RF capacity to transform wireless industry economics, especially for popular mobile telephony and wireless Internet services. In fact, thereÇƒÙs every reason to think weÇƒÙre on the cusp of a spectrum explosion¨?one that will trigger major shifts in investments, business models, and services. The future era of abundance will be as foreign to us as our world would have been to Marconi and Tesla, whose early spark-gap radios occupied the entire usable spectrum for each individual Morse code message.
In this article, we look at the technologies that will make spectrum abundance possible and the regulatory reforms that will unleash it. We then turn to the question of who will benefit and who wonÇƒÙt when wireless connections for new voice, music, and video services will be everywhere.”
IEEE Spectrum – The End of Spectrum Scarcity [spectrum.ieee.org]