Economic and Social Benefits

Reducing the cost of bandwidth and expanding the reach of wireless networks – enabling applications as diverse as high-speed broadband access to machine-to-machine communications – is essential to global economic development. The publications below highlight the opportunities and public benefits created by spectrum sharing technologies.

Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access: An Analysis of Cases and Business Strategies

This working paper explores wireless broadband as an alternative means for broadband expansion through a case-based analysis of business strategies. Although wireless cannot provide the capacity available from advanced fiber networks, it has many other advantages. In this report the authors examine a dozen cases that provide real world evidence and strategic insight related to both the advantages and challenges involved in deploying wireless in scenarios spanning a range of densities and topographies, spectrum, applications and the institutions and stakeholders involved in and impacted by the network deployments.

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Wireless Innovation for the Last Mile Access: A Regulatory Analysis

This working paper explores alternative means for broadband expansion: wireless broadband. Although at present, wireless broadband cannot provide anywhere close to the type of capacity available from advanced fiber networks, it has many other advantages. First, and perhaps foremost, wireless alternatives may be the only economically feasible means of broadband expansion to certain parts of the country. The report begins by exploring the historical and policy developments for various spectrum bands that are being actively used or could see near term deployment for the provision of wireless broadband. In addition, for several of these bands, the authors examine the existing rules governing these bands in the Code of Federal Regulations. In addition to looking at Federal spectrum related regulations, we also consider rules related to wireless infrastructure deployment at both the Federal and State levels. Finally, the authors synthesize their findings by comparing the costs and benefits associated with different spectrum bands.

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Assessment of the Future Economic Value of Unlicensed Spectrum in the United States

A recently completed paper by this author provided an estimate of the economic value of unlicensed spectrum in the United States. The estimate was based on the adoption of technologies relying on unlicensed bands as of the end of 2013, which, by definition, comprised only widely adopted technologies, such as Wi¬Fi and RFID. The study concluded that the technologies currently operating in unlicensed spectrum bands in the United States generated a total economic value of $222.4 billion in 2013 and contributed $6.7 billion to the nation’s GDP.

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Info Graph »

Executive Summary: Dynamic Spectrum Management for Innovation and Growth

Everyone agrees on the growing need for spectrum. This growing need results from two phenomena. On the one hand, mobile traffic should be multiplied by 13 to 25 fold between 2011 and 2017. On the other hand, the development of new innovative services such as the Internet of Things and its multiple applications (smart cities, e-health…), could lead to a growing number of connected devices, up to 50 billion in 2020, according to estimations.

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TVWS in Disaster Response: A Breakthrough Technology for Rapid Communications after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

This report evaluates the capabilities of TV White Space (TVWS)-based networks to provide an immediate on-the-ground communications network for disaster relief respondents and victims, based on deployment following Philippine’s Typhoon Haiyan disaster relief efforts. In the past, information about populations affected by disasters have largely been collected and verified by professional responders working for authorized agencies. Now the information can be reported by the population themselves immediately, which also provides alternative avenues for social support to survivors.

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Efficiency Gains and Consumer Benefits of Unlicensed Access to the Public Airwaves

By every measure of economic performance — device shipments, users, usage, efficiency, value and innovation — the unlicensed spectrum access model has provided tremendous consumer benefits in the last decade. Simply put, without access to unlicensed spectrum, wireless broadband service would be much more costly and far less valuable.

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Perspectives on the value of shared spectrum access

The study contributes to understanding the socio-economic value of shared spectrum access, including its impact on competition, innovation and investment. The report encourages the application of innovative and flexible authorization schemes — like shared spectrum access – in order to use spectrum resources efficiently.

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The Economic Significance of License-Exempt Spectrum to the Future of the Internet

This paper discusses the economic importance of unlicensed spectrum to the Internet, as well as the implications if spectrum policy is not designed to capture the full benefit offered by mobile technologies, the Internet, and ubiquitous connectivity that spectrum affords.

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Communicators with Mark Gorenberg & Craig Mundie

Craig Mundie, Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer, and Mark Gorenberg, Managing Director for Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, discuss the recent report from U.S. President Barack Obama’s science advisors entitled “Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth.”

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FCC Chair: U.S. Needs “Spectrum Policy Innovation”

This article highlights remarks by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski regarding spectrum innovation and its relationship to economic growth and job creation. Genachowski reported that since the FCC has permitted the use of “junk bands”, their use has generated up to $37 billion every year in benefits.

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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Prepared Remarks to International CTIA Wireless 2012

Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s remarks discuss the economic impact of mobile services in the United States and the promise of creating value from innovations generated by the release of TV White Space (TVWS).

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The Economic Value Generated by Current and Future Allocations of Unlicensed Spectrum

This September 2009 paper quantifies the economic benefits of existing unlicensed spectrum access, and the possible economic benefits of making more unlicensed spectrum available. The report finds that the combined economic value to the United States’ economy of three unlicensed applications modeled is likely to equate $16 to $37 billion per annum over the next 15 years, representing only 15% of the total market for unlicensed devices in 2014.

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The National Broadband Plan

The National Broadband Plan lays out a national roadmap for America’s broadband infrastructure, and the initiatives that will achieve the development goals. Evidence shows how spectrum and enhanced broadband access can stimulate economic growth, generate new jobs for the economy, and better enable all sectors to push the economy into a more prosperous future.

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Solving the “Spectrum Crunch:” Unlicensed Spectrum on a High-Fiber Diet

This paper describes the trend, and argues that a balanced policy prioritizing more of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum will be needed to achieve a wireless future of pervasive connectivity at affordable rates.

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Dynamic “White Space” Spectrum Access

This new book from Professor William Webb, one of the key architects of white space access, is focused firmly on the issues of implementation of white space rules, the regulations, devices, databases and the applications that will make this a success.

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The case for permissive rule-based Dynamic Spectrum Access

This paper examines Dynamic Spectrum Access and provides data from a Microsoft-funded study of spectrum regulation. It argues that regulators should grasp the possibility offered by rules-based DSA to create modes of spectrum access that respond quickly to market conditions, allow for continuous technology upgrades, enable networks with finely tailored speeds, capacities and Qualities of Service (QoS) and effectively multiplex the countless future wireless applications. Furthermore, it explains how licence-based DSA harks back to an era of few users of spectrum and few networks, which is likely to simply serve to increase the size of exclusive holdings held by individual operators.

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TV White Spaces, I presume?

This paper presents the findings of a TVWS spectrum measurement initiative in Malawi and Zambia and introduces an open hardware device that geo-tags spectrum measurements and saves the results on a micro SD card. The device can also be used to record the use of spectrum over long periods of time.

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An Assessment Study on White Spaces in Malawi Using Affordable Tools

This paper describes an assessment study on TV White Spaces availability in Malawi using affordable tools. The conclusion of the study is that 1) it is possible to assess the spectrum usage using low cost equipment 2) ample spectrum for TV White Spaces deployment is available in Malawi.

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The Spectrum Opportunity: Sharing as the Solution to the Wireless Crunch

This article explores the history of spectrum policy and reviews advantages and disadvantages of current management practices in light of current technological and economic trends. The evidence suggests that not only is spectrum sharing becoming more important and feasible, but that a framework that makes sharing the default approach offers significant political, economic, and societal benefits. Exclusive use licenses will still be desirable in many circumstances, but they should have the burden of proof.

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Executive Office of the President, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Report to the President Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth. District of Colombia, United States, Tech. Rep. 1-146-BB, 2012

This report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) urges President Obama to utilize cognitive radio technologies to make better use of available spectrum, and makes a series of recommendations to harness the full benefits of all technologies available today.

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Radio Spectrum for a Hungry Wireless World

This paper argues that the problem in the spectrum ecosystem is the artificial constraints on innovations that better use spectrum resources. Further, liberalized spectrum access has led to game-changing economic growth and can enable innovations offering socio-economic advantages to flourish.

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Seeing the Bigger Picture: Context-aware Regulations

This paper proposes a regulatory framework for heterogeneity of white spaces emissions limits in an effort to facilitate homogenous service quality across different locations. The paper argues that rules must be both frequency- and spatially-aware to be effective.

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The Case for Unlicensed Spectrum

This paper discusses the advantages of each spectrum regime framework – licensed and unlicensed – and explains why unlicensed spectrum has been a particularly strong engine for innovation and a crucial complement to licensed spectrum access.

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Study on Legal, Economic & Technical Aspects of “Collective Use” of Spectrum in the European Community Europe

This study considered how the extension of the collective use approach might contribute to broader EU policy objectives, with regard to optimising the use of scarce radio spectrum resources, strengthening the internal market, supporting innovation, and promoting competitiveness.

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Technical and Operational Requirements for the Possible Operation of Cognitive Radio Systems in the “White Spaces” of the Frequency Band 470-790 MHz

This document provides requirements with which secondary TV white spaces users need to comply in order to operate in the frequency range from 470 to 790 MHz without impacting the performance of primary users.

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Spectrum access models and auction mechanisms

Spectrum regulators are preparing for flexible spectrum use and the implementation of new technologies. To make the appropriate decisions, regulators need to identify and evaluate the different alternatives. This paper examines a systematic classification of the spectrum access models that can be used together with suitable auctions in order to evaluate and decide between different models.

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Spectrum Measurement Studies

Although some argue that consumers and their service providers are facing a “spectrum crunch”, the studies listed below demonstrate that most high-value spectrum is not being used most of the time – even in some of the most congested cities in the world. Dynamic spectrum access technologies could leverage much of that unused spectrum and increase available bandwidth for consumers.

Quantitative Assessment of TV White Space in India

Licensed but unutilized television (TV) band spectrum is called as TV white space in the literature. Ultra high frequency (UHF) TV band spectrum has very good wireless radio propagation characteristics. The amount of TV white space in the UHF TV band in India is of interest. Comprehensive quantitative assessment and estimates for the TV white space in the 470-590 MHz band for four zones of India (all except north) are presented in this work.

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How much white spaces capacity is there?

This work uses FCC data for TV transmitter locations, census data and radio propagation models in an attempt to quantify the magnitude and geographical distribution of white spaces spectrum opportunity in the United States.

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Revisiting TV Coverage Estimation with Measurement-based Statistical Interpolation

In this work, we quantify and compare the performance of DBA model-based predictions (serving as a baseline) with measurement-based approaches that employ Kriging followed by classification for coverage region estimation.

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Long-term spectral occupancy Findings in Chicago

This paper summarizes the results of a three-year long Illinois Institute of Technology Spectrum Observatory research study. The paper presents first-order statistics about the spectral occupancy across multiple bands, and the spectral opportunities that are seen in the newly available “TV White Space.” The results are applicable to long term spectrum modeling, spectrum planning, and regulatory decision-making efforts.

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Measurements of Spectrum Use in London: Exploratory Data Analysis and Study of Temporal, Spatial and Frequency-Domain Dynamics

A week-long measurement campaign on spectrum use in London, U.K. was conducted to understand the characteristics and especially the variability in spectrum use over different types of areas in a major metropolitan area. This paper details the correlation structures and dynamics in spectrum use in temporal, spatial and frequency domains.

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Lessons Learned from an Extensive Spectrum Occupancy Measurement Campaign and a Stochastic Duty Cycle Model

This paper presents the spectrum measurement setup and discusses lessons learned during measurement activities. Measurement results gathered at three locations are compared and show differences in the background noise processes. Additionally, a new model is introduced for the duty cycle distribution that has multiple applications in the DSA research.

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Technology and Innovation

Spectrum sharing technology and business models continue to evolve, creating new opportunities for businesses and communities. Below are examples of emerging models in this space.

Hopscotch – A Low-Power Renewable Energy Base Station Network for Rural Broadband Access

This article describes a wireless broadband access testbed running in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, deployed as part of the TV white spaces trial in Bute. The reliance on renewable power and the intelligent use of frequency bands made the trial’s approach a green radio technology that can address the problem of rural broadband access.

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How New Technologies Can Turn a Spectrum Crisis into a Spectrum Opportunity

This paper explores current models of spectrum management, the technologies that use spectrum, and the limitations of current spectrum management policies. It argues that regulatory mechanisms should exploit the capabilities of new technologies, including cognitive radios, spectrum-sensing technologies, automated online spectrum-allocation databases, and dynamically controlled transmission power networks.

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Open Wireless vs. Licensed Spectrum: Evidence from Market Adoption

This study collects evidence about eight wireless markets and suggests that markets are adopting unlicensed wireless strategies in mission-critical applications, in many cases more than they are building on licensed strategies.

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The Consumer Benefits of Expanding Shared Use of the Public Airwaves

This paper demonstrates that unlicensed spectrum has played a central and critical role in growth of wireless broadband data services.

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Deployment of a cellular network in the TVWS

This paper analyzes the potential of TV whitespaces for secondary cellular use. It studies the situation where a single cellular operator improves the performance of its network by upgrading its existing cell-sites to opportunistically and cost-efficiently utilize secondary spectrum resources. The study then determines the available capacity for such networks under interference-margin constraint rules and use terrain-based propagation models to retrieve realistic coverage predictions.

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Trial Reports

Limpopo TVWS Trial Network Field Measurements

The Limpopo TVWS trial network was initially planned to run from June until December 2014. However, due to a number of studies that are yet to be completed, a request for license extension is being considered. Overall, since the TVWS trial network was launched in June 2014, there was no concern or report of interference to the local TV reception or any interested party.

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Rural Broadband Trials Laikipia County, Kenya: Summary Findings of 12 Month Trial of Television White Spaces Technologies

On 19 August 2013, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) issued Microsoft East Africa Limited with a trial authorization to conduct a trial utilizing television white spaces technologies in the vicinity of Nanyuki and Kalema. Consequently, a series of pilots and projects were undertaken in defined rural parts of Kenya. These projects relied and continue to rely on a combination of wireless technologies designed to operate on a license-exempt or unlicensed basis, including Wi-Fi and TV White Space base stations and end user devices.

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Recommendations for Implementing the Use of White Spaces: Conclusions from the Cambridge TV White Spaces Trial

In June 2011, 11 leading companies and organizations in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors worldwide came together in a consortium to test the technical feasibility of using television (TV) white spaces for a number of applications. A primary purpose of the Trail was to assist Ofcom, the UK regulator for media and telecommunications, in developing the regulatory framework which will facilitate the use of TV white spaces and help to achieve certain policy objectives.

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Cambridge TV White Spaces Trial: A Summary of the Technical Findings

This Trial was designed to help Ofcom translate its proposals for license-exempt access to white space spectrum into a secure enabling framework which protects the licensed services as well as allowing innovation. It was also intended to help illustrate the potential for white spaces to service a number of key applications.

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Report on White Space Spectrum Survey for Cambridge TV White Spaces Trial

The CRFS monitoring network of fixed and mobile nodes has been used to create a database of the spectrum usage of the UHF bands of interest used in the Cambridge TV White Spaces trial. The monitoring results summarized in this report give an interesting picture of TV white space in the Cambridge area.

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Cambridge TV White Spaces Trial: PMSE Trials Report

Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) is a member of the Cambridge White Spaces Consortium that has set up a TV White Spaces Trial to determine if new unlicensed services could coexist with incumbent licensed services such as DTT and PMSE. This report specifically addresses PMSE with the Neul WhiteSpace devices (WSD) using the Weightless specification.

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Cambridge TV White Spaces Trial Summit, 25 April 2012

Archive of presentations and reports on results from the Cambridge TV White Spaces Trial. This summit on the trial results was held 25 April, 2012.

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White Space Rural Broadband Trial on the Isle of Bute

In April 2011, a six-partner consortium, with support from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board, started work on a rural broadband trial network that would use white space radio spectrum to provide broadband connectivity to a small rural community on the south part of the Isle of Bute, Scotland. A key aim was to investigate and demonstrate the potential of white space spectrum for providing broadband access to remote, difficult-to-reach rural areas in challenging terrain. The 18-month project involved the planning and installation of white space radio links from the local telephone exchange to eight premises in the surrounding area, as well as backhaul connectivity from the telephone exchange to the mainland and then on to BT’s IP backbone for access to the Internet.

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Cape Town TV White Spaces Trial

CSIR Meraka Institute, Google, Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa, e-Schools Network, the Wireless Access Providers’ Association, and Carlson Wireless partnered in a TV White Spaces (TVWS) trial with ten schools in the Cape Town area. The goal of the trial was to demonstrate that TVWS can be used to deliver affordable broadband without interfering. Cape Town was chosen as a challenging RF environment with digital and analogue primary users broadcasting in varied terrain. The participating schools, previously equipped with slow or unreliable Internet connections, experienced high-speed broadband access for the first time. Both scientific measurements and crowd-sourced reporting confirmed that the TVWS equipment and database worked as expected and that no interference was experienced during the six-month trial.

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Piloting White Spaces for DSpaces in Malawi

This paper describes a potential application that exploits the White Spaces identified in the UHF television band in Malawi to be the channel to connect to University digital repositories based on the DSpace architecture.

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TV White Space: Ready for Prime Time?

In association with the Gigabit Libraries Network, UNH BCoE completed a four-month trial of TV White Space technology in Durham, N.H., that provided Internet connectivity to two libraries and the UNH InterOperability Laboratory, a nationally known technology testing facility. Results of the trial, along with a broader description of TV White Space origins, technology foundation and exclusive financial models for TVWS deployment are published in this white paper.

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