Electromagnetic Spectrum Limitations

It seems to me…

To cross the seas, to traverse the roads, and to work machinery by galvanism, or rather electro-magnetism, will certainly, if executed, be the most noble achievement ever performed by man.”  ~ Alfred Smee – Elements of Electro-Metallurgy: or The Art of Working in Metals by the Galvanic Fluid (1841).

Electromagnetic spectrum is a limited resource for which imaginative observers always are able to propose uses far in excess of availability.  There are international committees responsible for defining how this resource is to be subdivided among the many competing possible applications but there still remains considerable flexibility within these broad agreements as to how specific segments of that spectrum can be portioned for use within each country.  Since electromagnetic radiation does not respect artificial national demarcations, this frequently results in interference resulting from the different uses defined in response to what basically remains politically-motivated division of an increasingly valuable but limited asset.

Unfortunately, many decisions regarding division of this resource are made not by acknowledged experts or even individuals experienced in the field but by those with competing agendas without any understanding or apparent concern of long-term implications of their decisions.  By allowing elected politicians to decide on highly technical allocation nuances, we again are subjected to the corrupting influences of self-serving lobbyists.  Usage patterns and priorities change over time and currently are undergoing what historically are the most rapid advances to ever have occurred in this area.  Frequency reallocation is obviously necessary and appropriate.

Congress apparently considers this reallocation process simply as an opportunity to auction off spectrum and generate additional revenue.  Given the standard political process of business as usual, this apparently makes good sense to those with limited understanding of what actually is at stake.  It also primarily benefits already entrenched interests able to afford purchases of wireless spectrum such as AT&T, Verizon, and other large well-established companies to the detrimental exclusion of new small startups with limited funding but able to bring much-needed innovation and new applications to new developing areas.  Reallocation is necessary but an auction is the wrong way for it to be done.

Wireless broadband applications are expected to continue increasing and exceed current allocations allotments.  While already experiencing constraints in areas of high population density, existing companies would be able to expand into additional frequencies at less expense than evolving onto more efficient network deployments.  Wireless network expansion is required to support the rapidly increasing use of video-based applications and other high data-rate communications.  Internet service providers (ISPs) primarily view this primarily as an opportunity to provide for-profit entertainment and should be required as part of any reallocation to support equal upload and download data rates.

Certainly necessitating at least temporary spectrum allocation is improvement in the national emergency wireless network.  Current system weaknesses where various agencies are unable to intercommunicate in emergencies necessitate the urgent need for improved system capabilities but part of any spectrum allocation to this service should be the required reallocation of current emergency communications allocations by pre-established usage termination dates.

While some very limited determination of spectrum allocation by the private sector interests might be appropriate, primary allocation should be based solely on the public’s best interests and remain free of political or financially motivated influences.

That’s what I think, what about you?


About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in AT&T, Broadband, Communications, Competition, electromagnetic, Emergency, Emergency, Internet, ISP, Lobbyists, Network, Service Providers, Spectrum, Telecommunications, Verizon, Wireless and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Electromagnetic Spectrum Limitations

  1. Wonderful post. I follow sites with regards to all about but ended up being considering this stuff. I would must connect to it through this site, more information here. I think a few of my viewers would love that as well.


    • lewbornmann says:

      Thank you. I apologize for not replying more quickly to your comment but this has been a very busy summer: floods, hurricanes, and wildfires…

      It always is nice to know something I wrote was useful. While I always try to check any facts to which I refer, they are subject to individual interpretation. Please let me know if you ever disagree with what I said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.