Monday, June 25, 2018

Evolving sharing

Now that it’s clear the Trump administration supports spectrum sharing (FierceWireless), this option will become even more salient in policy debates. I think the hardest question is how to allow a legacy incumbent to adjust their operation over time, potentially encroaching on the rights of new entrants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bringing a gun to a knife fight (spectrum edition)

As I pointed out in “Satellite spectrum efficiency” the satellite industry can’t win a spectrum auction fight with cellular since the cellular industry generates more $/Hz. This obviously generalizes to any number of industries competing in a license auction; the industry that generates the most $/Hz will always win. (The question of how overwhelming the win is, as a function of differences between industry $/Hz distributions, is left as an exercise.) So what?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Three satellite eras


Dramatic increases in the number of two-way satellite terminals is a key issue in current spectrum policy, e.g. the argument between satellite and cellular interests in the millimeter wave bands. Most Earth stations used to be TV receivers. However, the growth of satellite broadband service is increasing the number of Earth station transmitters.While it's an over-simplification, but it helps me to think of the number of earth station transmitters (often referred to as uplinks) growing in three overlapping and cumulative eras.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Satellite spectrum efficiency

I’m no fan of the concept of spectrum efficiency, but it’s helping me understand the gulf between the cellular and satellite businesses.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Economic rivalry, interference and spectrum allocation

I’m intrigued by the questions:
  • What is the relationship (if any) between rivalry and licensing regime in spectrum regulations to date? 
  • And what should it be in the future? 
 I think such work could shed light on efforts to allocate and assign millimeter-wave spectrum (roughly, above 30 GHz).

Friday, May 11, 2018

Scale change and regulatory change

The current and forecast growth in the number of satellite systems is putting strain on how the FCC and other agencies regulate satellites. There’s a lot of talk of regulatory reform, and calls for comprehensive rather than incremental change.

That leads me to wonder: are there instructive precedents where a step change in the scale of an industry or activity forced a complete restructuring of regulation; or conversely, where change in regulation let to a change of scale?  Perhaps there are examples where one might take lessons for the reform of space governance.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Managing next-generation satellite interference

Big-time spectrum sharing is coming to space operations. There may soon be thousands of satellites, from half a dozen or more operators, operating in the same bands, at the same time, flashing in and out of interfering alignments as they crisscross the sky. These planned non-GSO (non-geostationary orbit) deployments bring unprecedented complexity to the space business.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Is harmful radio interference decreasing?

Spectrum analysts (including me) often proclaim that harmful interference is a growing problem, or at the very least a growing risk. That sounds plausible, given the growing profusion of radios, packed more and more densely together. But what if the opposite is true?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Constellation satellite broadband: the first shoe drops

I’ve never been convinced about the business model for satellite constellation broadband. However, much smarter (and much, much richer) people than me have invested billions in these businesses. How could one tell if there's going to be a there over there?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Permissionless Innovation, the Precautionary Principle, and Gardening

Adam Thierer’s insights about “soft law” being the middle ground between permissionless innovation and the precautionary principle reminded me of Michael Pollan’s portrayal of gardening as mediating between the wilderness ethic and humans micromanaging nature.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Note on receivers in the EU Radio Equipment Directive and ETSI standards

The European Union has focused new attention on radio receiver standards through terms in the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) which came into force last year. The RED’s requirements that any “receiver [must have] a level of performance that allows it to operate as intended and protects it against the risk of harmful interference, in particular from shared or adjacent channels” have been reflected in new ETSI standards.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Traditional ethics and standards of scholarship

The astrophysicist Simon White concluded his introduction (pdf) to the 2016 Ringberg workshop on galaxy formation by asking how one developed consensus about what is well established. (Thanks to Petri Mähönen for bringing it to my attention.)

White’s answer: “Re-emphasise traditional ethics and standards of scholarship.”

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Templates and narratives for change

At the end of a conversation with David Runciman about powerful women on the Talking Politics podcast (reposted on the LRB podcast; their chat starts around 18:00), Mary Beard had this to say:
The idea that women have a model for doing [changing the structures within which women can think of themselves as ambitious, as powerful, as clever, as articulate, and able to make that kind of difference in the world] -- and I don't mean a kind of role model, but I just mean a kind of cultural template for doing that -- until we can provide a narrative and a template, then I think we've got a problem.
This resonates with what I try (and fail) to do in policy innovation. It's not sufficient to have a new idea (= template). You also need to have a story (= narrative) that explains why anyone should care, and why it makes sense.

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.

Sunday, January 08, 2017