Spectrum refers to the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the range of frequencies through which electromagnetic radiation travels. Electromagnetic radiation is the energy that travels at the speed of light in waves as a stream of photon particles. This form of energy encompasses radio waves, microwaves, visible, nonvisible light, X–rays and gamma rays, and these classifications are based upon the frequency at which the energy travels (see figure 1). In order to refer to a specific portion, also called a band, of the electromagnetic spectrum, one uses Hertz (Hz) as the unit of measurement.
Spectrum has an abundance of practical applications. It can be used for Radio communications, medical x–ray technology, microwave ovens, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and mobile broadband. The prevalence of these applications is continually growing, and this being the case, we must be careful to prevent interference caused by overloading a frequency and we must prepare for the ensuing spectrum crunch. The spectrum crunch refers to the point at which the amount of data being transferred through the electromagnetic spectrum exceeds the spectrum’s capacity to transfer that data without interference. This policy paper is primarily focused on the current policy surrounding the Wi-Fi and mobile broadband applications of spectrum and how the United States government should be directing policy to postpone the spectrum crunch.
History of Spectrum Policy
Following the sinking of the Titanic, the Radio Act of 1912 was instated, requiring all radio stations to be licensed by the United States federal government, and mandating that all seagoing vessels must continuously monitor distress frequencies. The implementation and enforcement of the Act was deleg...
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..., the potential to access content is restricted to a single location. This might not be as big of a problem as it appears though because according to Cisco’s polls, “users report that two–thirds of their usage is at home or work, with only ten to fifteen percent being ‘on the go’ or outside of retail and public locations that are increasingly wired to Wi–Fi” (See Table 2). Not only is Wi–Fi a much more efficient approach to postponing the spectrum crunch, it is largely consumers’ preferred mode of access to internet. Consumers report that Wi–Fi is not only better for them in regards to cost, but also in quality. (See Table 3)
As evident in Table 3, Wi–Fi is the preferred means of accessing the internet in all regards except for best coverage. With the continued expansion of Wi–Fi networks, this small disadvantage could be entirely mitigated.