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Why not a ‘Declaration of Independence’ for America’s public airwaves?

Unlicensed spectrum brought us wireless phones and WiFi—so why isn’t more available? Several key thinkers behind “TV white space devices” now say that those ideas could and should be extended to many other bands.

By Nate Anderson, Ars Technica

Say you have some bright idea for the “next WiFi” and you just need a tiny little smidgen of open spectrum in which to deploy the invention that will bring cheap, easy, ubiquitous communications nirvana to everyone. Can you get it?

Generally, no. The US government squats on huge swaths of spectrum, while paid-up license holders (like cell phone service providers) control much of the rest. Slivers of spectrum are left open for unlicensed use, and those tiny bands have produced great big social benefits: wireless baby monitors, wireless phones, and WiFi.

But a set of papers from the New America Foundation argue that the Obama administration should take a different course on spectrum, making it simple for entrepreneurs to launch new wireless devices even in occupied bands. Their common credo: spectrum is abundant—if you treat it right. . . It’s time to start sharing . . .

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