Friday, February 10, 2017

Spectrum is not a scarce natural resource


Almost every policy or technology story about radios starts with the litany that Spectrum is a Scarce Natural Resource. I will argue that this claim is false, and that it matters.

In short:

  • Spectrum is no more a scarce natural resource than sound.
  • It is more accurate and productive to talk about radio operation.
  • Rather than saying “spectrum is scarce”, it’s better to say “radio coexistence is hard.”


The pay-off is that this alternative language makes us focus on what matters – the best way to arrange the operation of radios – rather than on ways to manage a resource (spectrum) that may or may exist.