Monday, January 17, 2005

Better Use of the RF Spectrum?

Business Week is carrying an article by Greg Blonder entitled America Needs Unchained Spectrum. His argument appears to me to contain a couple of minor errors (e.g. that the "good" CB service delayed the introduction of the "great" mobile service - I am not convinced that these two sets of products were ever in competition; although the trunking of dispatch systems (taxis, couriers, ...) to the public phone system may have delayed the availability of what would otherwise have been a ready early market, so maybe his conclusion holds for reasons different to those that he suggests) and completely overlooks the cost of replacing the current deployed inventory of end-user devices (TVs, cordless phones, baby monitors, cell/mobile phones, radios, WiFi infrastructure, ...), but broadly his claim appears to have some merit.

That TV broadcasters are able to have exclusive use of enormous chunks of spectrum for a single use (if we have no interesting content for a given timeslot, fill it with infomercials) and that they have this dominion even in areas where their signal is not wanted (Blonder implies that 20% of the population is a huge audience for any given broadcast) or not even available (behind obstructions or in unserviced rural areas) probably made sense when there were only two or three channels in existence and when those two or three were a matter of great interest for an entire population, but does seem a little out of place in the current environment.