The Myth of Spectrum Scarcity, Position Paper by Martin Cooper – March 2010

Executive Summary

America urgently needs to satisfy its exploding demand for radio spectrum. Proposed solutions suggest that reallocating spectrum from existing users to those with more urgent requirements can solve the problem. While reallocation may offer some relief, the technical and political obstacles associated with spectrum reallocations will deliver too little too late; such solutions simply cannot fulfill thecountry’s exploding need for radio spectrum. Keeping America’s telecommunications infrastructure robust, competitive and expanding requires multiples of the existing 250 MHz of telecom spectrum—two or three times that much in the short term and much more in the long term.

This need will not be satisfied by trying to reassign inadequate segments of spectrum among licensees. Instead, it will be the actualization of existing and new technologies, in effect creating additional spectrum by using current allocations more efficiently offering America its best and most economic solution. Though the physical band of radio spectrum is finite, technological advances have made spectrum capacity grow exponentially for more than a century: technological progress has doubled the amount of available radio spectrum for telecommunications every 30 months since 1897 with a concomitant reduction in the cost of information delivery.

History must instruct us. The government should adopt policies that encourage the use of more efficient telecommunications technologies to satisfy spectrum demand.

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