War for the Web
28 10.11

Wireless Spectrum

The CEO of Verizon Communications wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times recently about the looming bandwidth crisis. The point he makes is a good one. Wireless usage is on the rise. It is expected to multiply 60 times by 2015, which is only three years away.

The wireless spectrum is just that, a spectrum of frequencies over which information and data can be transmitted. Now, there is a set amount of wireless spectrum, based on what transmission technology can create. The FCC administers this spectrum. Some of it is unlicensed and unregulated, this is where Wifi came from. It’s a consumer product offered over unlicensed spectrum.

Cellular networks, Satellite transmissions, 3G data networks, government agencies, and more all used licensed spectrum. But the amount of spectrum that consumers need for their devices is increasing.

Mr. McAdam points out that it is up the government to allocate new wireless spectrum. Or to reassign the current wireless spectrum from older, less efficient uses towards wireless companies like Verizon. He argues that wireless companies have a greater need for spectrum now, as demand increases, and that more spectrum should be made available for their use.

But spectrum is in some ways a natural resource, why should it be licensed to specific companies for use? Why does Verizon deserve this spectrum more than the American people? Is it simply because they have the technology to make it work efficiently? But who knows what could emerge from more unlicensed spectrum. It is an interesting question.

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