Article: Open Spectrum

Open Infrastructure, Spectrum

Open Spectrum

For nearly a century, radio frequency spectrum has been treated as a scarce resource that the government must parcel out through exclusive licenses. Licensing may have been the only approach in the 1920s, but it certainly isn’t in the first years of the 21st century. 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.” By making more efficient use of the spectrum we have, the capacity constraints that limit current wireless voice and data services can effectively be removed.

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