Spectrum wars 2.0
Apr 21, 2017 by Kane Mumford

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In the same way that warfare has supposedly, for lack of a better word, “evolved” over time from the wholesale conquering of an enemy’s territory into a more targeted and strategic business, the battle for spectrum looks to be heading the same way.

Rather than the mobile industry securing swathes spectrum as it has in the past, it will instead have to focus on strategically important targets, as Kalpak Gude, the new head of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance recently told us.

This week PolicyTracker reported on the emerging battle lines of WRC-19. Wi-Fi, intelligent transport systems and mobile will vie for increasingly small but strategically critical chunks of spectrum.

A key skirmish, perhaps, will be the decisions made over which of the eleven plus-6 GHz bands set for study for 5G will get the ITU’s support. Tuning ranges might make the choice between 26 GHz and 28 GHz less important, although people seem undecided on this.

Warfare is also a battle for hearts and minds. Next week we’ll report on the Wi-Fi community adopting the tactics used by the mobile industry, arguing that the proliferation of devices plus increased user demand means more spectrum must be made available.

And aside from WRC-19 there is the Thirty-Years (plus) War of cross-border interference caused by Italy to FM radio services in Croatia, Slovenia and France. From the comments of one regulator, it looks like there is no end in sight to this particular struggle.

But more peaceable approaches could be emerging. Next week we will also look at the latest developments on FCC’s Citizens Broadband initiative. Will it be a lamplight of hope for spectrum sharing, or, as is already starting to look the case, be subject to the more bellicose designs of various stakeholders?