Summary:

The spectrum shortage, backed by scary stats from Cisco, is the rationale for a $39-billion merger the Justice Department is currently fighting. The running narrative is we want to use a ton of data but our airwaves can’t handle it. But what if we shared?

woodpeckers sharing

The spectrum shortage is big news. Backed by scary charts and stats from Cisco, and the rationale for a $39-billion merger of AT&T and T-Mobile that the Justice Department is currently fighting, the running narrative is that we want to use a ton of data on our mobile devices and our airwaves aren’t going to support it anymore. So we need more spectrum, and we need it now.

But what if the solution isn’t more spectrum, but rather learning how to share? And then figuring out the technological standards around sharing the airwaves?

Luckily, the FCC is already thinking about this as it evaluates dynamic spectrum access technologies and allows testing of a database and radio for Super Wi-Fi approvals. Part of approving Super-Wi-Fi, which shares spectrum with digital TV broadcasters and wireless microphones, is the use of the radio and database working together to make sure a given channel of spectrum is clear of other signals. This way, a streaming Netflix video won’t interfere with a live broadcast of American Idol.

To understand how databases might allow the United States to use military and other spectrum more efficiently, check out the video above with Telcordia’s John Malyar. For those feeling a bit nerdier, feel free to check out a post I wrote a few months back on seven technologies to help ease the spectrum crisis. In all honesty, we’re going to have to pull together a lot of technology to allow our wireless networks to meet our growing demand. Bring it on.

Image courtesy of Flickr user tarren in Virginia.

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