American wireless spectrum policy is, of course, subject to the same crony destructiveness as anything else subject to DC’s massive and all-encompassing involvement in our lives.
Spectrum is a finite resource. And the government controls the majority of the spectrum that’s out there. So it’s a constant fight to get the government to give up the spectrum – and get it into the private sector.
There are, of course, crony interests in Big Business who want to dictate how government proceeds.
In many, many cases, big business owns the big government agencies that are supposed to oversee those big companies. So big business has big government lying and profusely obstructing. Reward yourself – and punish your enemies.
In this case, to block either the sale of spectrum by government to the private sector – or the private deployment of spectrum already out of massive government hands.
“The future of US 5G wireless services may be threatened by unwarranted concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)….
“The FAA says it is concerned that 5G wireless services that use a portion of the spectrum called the C-band, saying it could — possibly — interfere with radio altimeters measuring the altitude of a plane.
“Protecting an aircraft’s altimeters from interference is crucial, except the warning call is without merit in that the FAA has not provided reliable evidence to demonstrate that 5G services pose a threat to flight safety…
“Real-world experience also shows that more than 30 countries are using the same spectrum bands for 5G services but have had no interference issues.”
And yes, there are implications for communist China….
Whichever country goes 5G first, it sets the global standards for 5G. And it’s a race between two nations – the United States and China. So all this cronyism specter provincial idiocy that we are engaged in – is also a huge national and international security issue. International – because no nation on the planet should want China to set global 5G standards.
Oh: 5G – is fifth generation wireless. The next rung on the wireless connectivity ladder. And that’s a leap forward from 4G. Born is the Internet of Things (IoT):
“The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data.”
We expect there to be 1.5 billion IoT devices online this year. The government must therefore provide as much spectrum as possible – as quickly as possible – to the private sector. Except that more cronyism hinders progress. Because of course.
There are two ways for the government to allocate spectrum for private use: licensed and unlicensed.
A license is spectrum purchased by – or loaned to – a single owner.
TV and radio broadcasters use their licensed spectrum for free on which they can operate – in exchange for complying with a bunch of government regulations.
Wireless telephone companies buy licensed spectrum – on which they build their wireless networks. Oh: And they also have to adhere to a bunch of government regulations. Because big government.
The license is better for 5G. Because each band of the spectrum is used by far fewer people. You can use license-free spectrum for 5G and IoT – and the technology to do so is getting better all the time. But this is less than optimal. Unlicensed spectrum can become a sort of Babel Tower. Think old school phone party lines. There may be a few people…:
“For your own IoT deployment, consider the implications of using licensed or unlicensed wireless spectrum to support your network. Using licensed spectrum has two important benefits: greater reliability and better performance.
“Why? Think of it like a crowded room: as more people are crammed in and talking simultaneously, it becomes harder to hear. Unlicensed spectrum users compete with other users for priority. And as an unlicensed user, you have no protection against interference from other parties.”
Now please don’t get me wrong: I’m very much in favor of unlicensed spectrum. There are many useful advantages for the private sector to have it in large quantities. I’m only pointing out that recent government decisions with license and without license – have been less than optimal.
And yes: the licensed spectrum is SOLD to the licensee. This means the government has received hundreds of billions of dollars in licensed spectrum sales. Unlicensed spectrum – is given “for free”. In DC’s definition of free – meaning we the people don’t get paid for it.
So why, despite the monetary incentive, has the government made the authorized and unauthorized decisions available to it?
Can you guess why? If you guessed Big Tech – you’re right.
“The CTIA said the national interest in 5G requires further consideration. Additionally, the commission and the wireless industry have a long history of successful spectrum repurposing….
“The RLAN Group, which includes Apple, Broadcom,…Facebook (and) Google…told the commission in its March 18 filing (PDF) that it should reject CTIA and Ericsson’s efforts to ‘overturn’ the approach proposed by the commission….”
The diffusers make another very good point….
“The National Association of Broadcasters has some advice for Google and Microsoft, which pushed the FCC to release more unlicensed spectrum in the broadcast incentive auction: If you need more spectrum for your business plans, you have the money to bid for it in the auction.
These Big Tech monsters certainly have orders of magnitude more money as wireless carriers seek more licensed spectrum to do their vitally important 5G work vis-à-vis China.
But, as always, it’s much cheaper for big business to buy big government. And then Big Government gives Big Business what they should have bought themselves.
Photo by Rain Rannu, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).