Posts on Open Spectrum

October 24, 2006

Net Neutrality Slow to Enter into European Telecom Regulations Debate


Net Neutrality is overshadowed by wider regulatory problems in Europe. In the most recent EU Telecom regulations review, net neutrality was alluded to only indirectly. The leading issues in EU telecoms debate at present are

  • Unifying Regulatory body accross Europe; debate is dominated by the compromise between a central regulatory body and decentralized powers at national level
  • Curbing the Mobile roaming charge abuse; mobile phone operators currently operate non-competitive tariff arrangements for roaming service
  • Transfer to new technologies , notably IP technology
  • Improved Spectrum Management in recognition of the inefficiency of the current spectrum licence assignment model. The spectrum debate will hopeful give rise to increased ranges assigned to unregulated and market players, which extract huge value with the neutral "end-to-end" data comms technologies like bluetooth and wimax.
  • Reduction of the regulatory burden on companies; if anything the European market is over-regulated and EU commission is charged with increasing freedom of the market gradually.

Net neutrality has entered the debate; finding the right balance between regulation and competitive market mechanisms for the IP data transit services is acknowledged as important by the EU Telecom Commissioner. Alex Blowers, International Director of UK Telecoms Regulator OFCOM, raised the issue in EU Regulatory framework consultation seminar. But the work on assuring the best net-neutrality solution is very much secondary to agreeing on the final EU regulatory bodies. Whom will be charged with investigating and legislating net neutrality in Europe is still an open question.

Regulatory development on net neutrality needs a push lest the markets implement layered net services without waiting for any regulations.

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September 19, 2006

Wifi to Receive a Wider Spectrum Range from Military
Category: Open Spectrum

After many years of fighting for more radio frequency spectrum to be awarded to the public, the UK MoD is looking to unlock a spectrum range from military use. The bandsharing forum, formed on Monday, will oversee the transition and awarding of spectrum for public and corporate use.

Currently, the Bandsharing Forum claims that organisations such as the MoD and the Civil Aviation Authority control more than 40 percent of the most useful radio spectrum. And the majority of the non-military spectrum is awarded to Radio, TV broadcast and mobile phone operators. With a small fraction being open to public, non-regulated, use through Wifi, Wimax and bluetooth technologies.

Wifi and bluetooth technologies have proved that open public use of radio spectrum generates the most value out of the limited resource. The value generated by public wifi use of a fraction of the range is far beyond that generated by mobile phone operators, for instance. Unfortunately, wifi and bluetooth users muster little lobbying power compared to mobile phone operators.

Open spectrum organizations, and the wireless internet commons will be lobbying for some of the new spectrum to be released for open public use.

The key breakthrough of open public radio technology, like wifi, is that it allows all users an equal share of the resource, and manages the contention when users collide on the spectrum. A model first used on the TCP protocol which is the cornerstone of net neutrality on the internet.

More spectrum will allow wifi to increase its range and accomodate more simultaneous users.

[Via Military spectrum eyes civvy street - ZDNet UK News]

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May 14, 2006

Web Radio Overtakes AM/FM radio - Good News for Open Spectrum Activists
Category: Open Spectrum

Radio listeners are turning to the web, Web gets more listeners than AM/FM. The news is

People using the web to listen to radio during the evening now outnumber those using traditional AM or FM receivers, according to Virgin.

Nearly one in four (24 per cent) listens online compared with 21 per cent who tune in to analogue broadcasts. Seventeen per cent use digital (Dab) radio and nine per cent get the programmes via their TV. The remaining 29 per cent represent the proportion of Virgin regulars who do not tune in at all on a given day.

The figures cover listeners outside London where the reception may be weaker.

A trend that should lead to the opening of parts of the AM and FM spectrum. The narrow ranges of spectrum used by the 802.11 standard have shown how much value can be generated when a communications medium is made available to all.

Good news for open spectrum activitists , who advocate that availability of spectrum for license-exempt use has enabled us to develop cost-effective, user-owned networks to provide Internet access and localised information services for the benefit of many thousands

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