A Broad Spectrum (of Opinions)

Consider for a moment all the devices you use that get some sort of wireless signal: cellular phone, cordless phone, TV, radio, etc. Each of these devices uses a specific swath of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., cordless phones operate in the 2.4GHz range.)

Now imagine that all of the special towers for each one (TV towers, radio towers, cell towers…) were replaced, and we just had “Internet towers.” I might use my wireless internet device to listen to the radio on the move, you might use yours to carry on a conversation. Rather than have several different antennas for different functions, we would work to increase speed across a broad range of frequencies.

How would such a system be controlled? By what entities? What would it cost? Could it really be better than the auctioning model (which we’ve seen with wireless phones) whereby we sell the rights to use frequencies to the highest bidder?

I think these are some of the more fascinating questions we face when we look at how we’ll use networks in the future. It’s interesting to me to see the Property or Commons debate continue to play out. My personal hope is that wireless becomes less important than everyone thinks it will be, and sophisticated fiber networks will do most of the data hauling. We’ll see.

[Also, in case you’re curious: I’m up this early because, yes, I had a paper due. Of course I didn’t start until half 4.]

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