As Internet access moves increasingly to mobile platforms, control over access to the public airwaves will determine whether wireless broadband networks are closed, costly and channelized - or open, affordable and innovative. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that spectrum is scarce and must be auctioned as exclusive licenses. The reality is emerging technologies and business models that allow shared, opportunistic and unlicensed access to an abundance of bandwidth for all.
This forum reviewed the technologies and policy debates at the center of this battle over the airwaves. The FCC will decide this fall whether to open the vacant TV channels in each market for shared, unlicensed use. But there is far more unused "white space" across the spectrum that can be unlocked with 'smart' radios and smarter policies. Among the benefits of open spectrum is more open networks - as well as facilitating a movement toward community networking that can greatly narrow digital divides in rural and disadvantaged areas.
This policy forum is co-sponsored by Google and the New America Foundation/Wireless Future Program.
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