Free Spectrum Applications

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Here is a page to compile actual or potential applications and implications of free spectrum uses. Please contribute. Help policy-makers understand the benefits of free airwaves!

To follow policy developments in the EU regarding spectrum policy, visit this page.

Bridging the digital divide:

  • Internet access in sparsely populated areas depends on wireless "last kilometre" technology because all other options cost more than potential subscribers want to pay. But even then, charging for spectrum use (via auctions or through administratively set prices using "best alternative use" valuations) adds enough cost to network build-out to discourage sign-ups and wipe out the profit potential for network developers. User-owned networks built in free-access bands are the only way to achieve universal access.
  • Connecting remote or rural areas to the Internet, without waiting for telecoms operators to find it profitable
  • Municipal wireless projects could see new life because the greater range of white space spectrum could reduce implementation costs of city-wide hotspots.

Optimizing our communications infrastructure:

  • 802.22 Wireless Protocol
    • This protocol is intended for use in public and or cluttered wireless spectra. It coordinates transceivers and mitigates many of the problems associated with interference. DELETE THIS - 802.22 was written by broadcast industry engineers to make whitespace usage fail in the marketplace. Better to cite ECMA International's draft final standard: "MAC and PHY for Operation in TV White Space" (October 2009) -
  • Web-connected devices like e-book readers, media players, smart meters and even vehicles might rely less on 3G or 4G networks for connectivity due to free or lower-cost white space network access.
  • Building of community-wide communication systems
  • Building of community emergency-relief communication systems

Fostering innovation in the digital economy:

  • The Wi-Fi band (2.4 GHz) proves that when creative entrepeneurs have free access to spectrum, they will invent new devices, services and applications whose success in the market - and benefit to society - came as a complete surprise to regulators. The analogy to the Internet - where no one needs government permission to put a new service online - is clear. Fortunately, barrierless entry to the wireless marketplace is an ideal recognised and pursued by the European Union's spectrum policy. The Authorisation Directive makes "general authorisation" (i.e. license exemption) the default policy preference in radio; licensing must be shown necessary or it is not allowed - in contrast to traditional (last century) practices.
  • An entirely new industry could rise, similar to that of the Wi-Fi market over the past dozen or so years, as new and updated baseband chips to support such frequencies will be needed for laptops, smartphones and notebooks.
  • "Internet of things" needing a wide and pervasive communication network in everyone's private sphere
  • Allowing for experimentation of new protocols and technologies using cheap, commodity hardware