> context weblog
sampling new cultural context
| home | site map | about context | lang >>> español - català |
wednesday :: december 18, 2002
> [ cut + paste ]: spectrum
open spectrum
:: spectrum as a commons

Almost everything you think you know about spectrum is wrong.

For nearly a century, radio frequency spectrum has been treated as a scarce resource that the government must parcel out through exclusive licenses. Spectrum licensing brought us radio, television, cellular telephones and vital public safety services. Along the way, the licensing model became an unquestioned paradigm, pervading our views. We simply can’t imagine doing anything else.

The assumptions underlying the dominant paradigm for spectrum management no longer hold. Today’s digital technologies are smart enough to distinguish between signals, allowing users to share the airwaves without exclusive licensing. Instead of treating spectrum as a scarce physical resource, we could make it available to all as a commons, an approach known as “open spectrum.” Open spectrum would allow for more efficient and creative use of the precious resource of the airwaves. It could enable innovative services, reduce prices, foster competition, create new business opportunities, and bring our communications policies in line with our democratic ideals.

Despite its radical implications, open spectrum can coexist with traditional exclusive licensing. There are two mechanisms to facilitate spectrum sharing: unlicensed parks and underlay. The first involves familiar allocated frequency bands, but with no user given the exclusive right to transmit. A very limited set of frequencies have already been designated for unlicensed consumer devices, such as cordless phones and wireless local area networks, but more is needed. The second approach allows unlicensed users to coexist in licensed bands, by making their signals invisible and non-intrusive to other users. Both open spectrum approaches have great value, with the specifics depending on how technology and markets develop. Both should be encouraged. The risks are minimal, while the potential benefits are extraordinary.

If the US Government wants to put in place the most pro-innovation, pro- investment, deregulatory, and democratic spectrum policy regime, it should do everything possible to promote open spectrum. >from *Open Spectrum: The New Wireless Paradigm* By Kevin Werbach, october 2002.

related context
Radio Free Software By Sam Williams. Salon, december 18, 2002
FCC Backs Open Spectrum? november 1, 2002
> smart mobs: new uses of mobile media. october 3, 2002
> (re)distributions: a culture of ubiquity. july 15, 2002
> streamer: pirate radio for the digital age. july 4, 2002
> gnu radio: software defined radio. june 27, 2002

> context weblog archive

write your mail and will send you the updates

:: subscribe

december 02
november 02
october 02
july 02
june 02
may 02
april 02
march 02
february 02
january 02
cuntdown 02
december 01
november 01
october 01
september 01
august 01

more news 00-01
>>> archive

send your comments to
> context@straddle3.net



context archives all www
      "active, informed citizen participation is the key to shaping the network society. a new "public sphere" is required." seattle statement
| home | site map | about context | lang >>> español - català |