The Internet today represents the best example of the self-regulating mechanism that will be necessary in the new radio environment that we envision (...)
The creation of a similar, decentralized structure for the optimal sharing of the radio spectrum will require a substantial effort by a combination of telecommunications experts and entrepreneurs working with the various regulatory bodies around the world (...)
As advanced radios are deployed, society must tackle the crucial issue of incorporating both positive and negative incentives within the network infrastructure itself to make the best use of a shared common resource, the radio spectrum (...)
[JW Note: I only just got around to looking at the following item, a fascinating historical forwards/backwards view of wireless technologies:
+ Dewayne mailed this item to me on 26 May, to be included as his Think Piece contribution to the Cybersalon/OpenSpectrumUK "Wireless Utopias 05" event at the Science Museum, London, 26 May here. This link got lost in the last minute preparations for the event.
+ see the subsequent article Dewayne Hendricks | Looking to Spectrum for a Networking Utopia | MuniWireless | Monday, July 25, 2005 here
+ See also my recent posting on the GNU Radio project here which flags up the Politics of software defined radio development. ]
Dewayne Hendricks | theMediaCenter.blogs.com at the American Press Institute | Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Some musings on the future of wireless technology
I've been asked by the folks at The Media Center to be a guest blogger for a few weeks here. One of the things that I'd like to talk about for this period is some of my ideas as to what's going on now with wireless technology and where I think it will be going in the future.
Wireless is a pretty hot topic at the moment. Most of us are up close and personal with it today via the celluar phone devices that we carry. With the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi, a lot of us who use computers now have another access option available which allows our computing devices to achieve almost anywhere, anytime connectivity.
Now a new wireless trend is starting, with some of the major cities in our country exploring the possibilities of covering themselves with a Wi-Fi 'cloud' that would provide access to the Internet from anywhere within the confines of the city. The implications of this are hard to predict, just as it would have been difficult to forecast the role of the Internet today from the vantage point of 1995.
I'd like to start my first commentary by going back a few years in history. I think that its always important to look back in time and use it to help us better put current events in perspective. What I'd like to do today is to reprint my testimony at a hearing on spectrum policy that took place at the FCC back in 1999. What I'd like you to do is to read through those remarks of six years ago and see just how they resonate with the wireless world that we find ourselves in today. We'll delve into this further in the coming weeks.
So let's set the 'Way Back Machine' to April 1999. The place: Commissioner's Meeting Room at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in Washington, D.C.
Good Morning Mr. Chairman. Commissioners.
I believe that today's communications technology is moving towards all digital transmitters and receivers. These advances in technology, combined with the swift evolution of cell-based transmission and switching protocols, is opening up a new set of possibilities for unique new services utilizing intelligent networks. These will contain smart transmitters, receivers and switches. Today's Internet is perhaps the best example of a self regulating structure that embodies these new technological approaches to communications in the networking domain. However, to date, many of these innovations have not moved into the wireless networking arena. I feel that the radio networks of the future will involve a mixture of links and switches of different ownership, which terminate at the end-user via relatively short distance links. What will then be required is a built-in, distributed, self governing set of protocols to cause the network's behavior to make more efficient use of a limited, common shared resource, the radio spectrum. Creating such a self-regulating structure for the optimal sharing of spectrum will require much effort. One of the major problems which stands in the way of these new approaches today is the current FCC regulatory environment and the manner in which spectrum is managed and allocated under its rules.
One of the major hurdles that a wireless entrepreneur encounters who wishes to develop innovative new communications products which involves radio is access to the requisite amount of spectrum. This process makes the involvement of the wireless entrepreneur with the government mandatory, which immediately puts the entrepreneur at a disadvantage when compared to entrepreneurs in the computer sector where government involvement is minimal. As a result, innovation has occurred at a much slower pace since the use of technologies such as spread spectrum require the use of more spectrum and not less in order for their advantages to become apparent when it is used for high-speed data transmission.
Historically, the current regulatory approach to radio has been based upon the technology that was in use at the time the Communications Act of 1934 was framed, basically what we would call today, "dumb transmitters speaking to dumb receivers." The technology of that time reserved bandwidths to be set aside for each licensed service so that spectrum would be available when needed. Given this regulatory approach, many new applications cannot be accommodated since there is no available unallocated spectrum to "park" new services. However, given the new set of tools available to the entrepreneur with the advent of digital technology, what once were dumb transmitters and receivers can now be smart devices which are capable of exercising greater judgement in the effective use and sharing of spectrum. The more flexible the tools that we incorporate in these devices, the greater the number of uses that can be accommodated in a fixed amount of shared spectrum.
One of the most promising regulatory actions by the Commission in recent times was the move in 1981 to permit the use of spread spectrum technology in unlicensed devices with the release of landmark NOI. This NOI eventually resulted in a new type of device that operates under Part 15 regulations and are deployed in what are called the industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) bands. More important, these devices are forbidden to operate at power levels greater than one watt and their transmissions must be spread a minimum amount across the assigned spectrum.
Those restraints notwithstanding, the 1985 Part 15 ruling and later additions and changes to those rules have already spawned the development, manufacture and marketing of a wide range of "no license required" products. Because mass manufacturing has yet to occur, spread spectrum products for data transmission from the sixty or so current vendors carry premium price tags that have limited the technology mainly to large organization, such as businesses, schools and libraries. Today a radio that can handle near-Ethernet traffic (10 Mbps, suitable for high speed computer communications) up to a distance of about 40 Kilometers (25 miles) costs $4000. Devices with lower capability, operation at T1 speeds (1.5 Mbps) to a range of 25 kilometers or so, cost $1,500. For very short ranges, such as for communications within a building, wireless local-area network (LAN) cards for PC's are priced as low as $250.
There is every reason to believe that these prices will drop as manufacturing volumes increase to meet the growing market demand for higher bandwidth and secure wireless connections from PC's to the Internet. In the future, people may, for example, routinely rely on wireless transmission to reach a central systems that would then connect to a traditional network of ground-based lines. We predict that reliable, secure unlicensed data radios operating at T1 or higher speed to a range of more than 30 kilometers will soon cost less than $500 each.
The Internet today represents the best example of the self-regulating mechanism that will be necessary in the new radio environment that we envision. The creation of a similar, decentralized structure for the optimal sharing of the radio spectrum will require a substantial effort by a combination of telecommunications experts and entrepreneurs working with the various regulatory bodies around the world. We believe the deployment and growth of such a system is achievable through increasingly 'smart' electronics, and we envision a self-governing set of protocols that are built into these intelligent devices. Packet radio operations as currently deployed in the Amateur Radio Service is a good existence proof of what is possible today. As advanced radios are deployed, society must tackle the crucial issue of incorporating both positive and negative incentives within the network infrastructure itself to make the best use of a shared common resource, the radio spectrum.
+ Source: theMediaCenter.blogs.com here