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FUTURE WIRELESS? Some industry and technology observations from Peter Cochrane

See the Cybersalon website for details of the 4 October 2005 conference FUTURE WIRELESS:practical.discourse.creative at the Science Museum's Dana Centre, London: event outline here and programme here

Looking forward to debate on Future Wireless, Open Spectrum UK has permission to publish the following statement on technology observations from Peter Cochrane.

Context: Ofcom- Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings (IASH, or Cave Audit of Spectrum Holdings)

See the IASH website here, from which the following overview is taken:

The Chancellor announced in his December 2004 Pre-Budget Report that Professor Martin Cave would conduct a comprehensive independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings (IASH), with the aim of releasing the maximum amount of spectrum to the market and increasing opportunities for the development of innovative new services.

The public sector is the single biggest user of UK radio spectrum, with many holdings dating back to a time of limited demand and relatively unsophisticated technologies. The IASH has been established to determine the scope for increased commercial access to this spectrum to meet the growing demand for new wireless services. It builds on the principles set out in Martin Cave’s 2002 Review of Radio Spectrum Management, which set out the rationale for allocating the spectrum through market processes but did not examine specific spectrum allocations in any detail. As a result of the 2002 Review Ofcom is currently implementing spectrum liberalisation for private sector spectrum, to increase efficiency and innovation. However in some some cases, especially in the public sector, spectrum liberalisation alone cannot deliver optimal allocation into the future.

In July the Audit team issued a consultation document (which can by accessed through the link on the left of this page). Responses were invited by 1st September and can be accessed under the ‘Responses’ section of this website. The Audit's final report will be published in advance of the Pre Budget Report 2005.

Submission to the Ofcom Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings (IASH):
Peter Cochrane, Some industry and technology observations (9 July 2005)

  1. A raft of new (high speed m-processor) technologies will see more spread spectrum systems at lower prices.
  2. At the same time there will be more and more services and applications than ever before with short range usage becoming largely dominant.
  3. Power, multi-path (MIMO), diversity, interference management will become far more sophisticated.
  4. Interference will increasingly become a non-issue.
  5. DIY wireless systems will overtake the professionals.
  6. The public, and companies, will increasingly be prepared to just do it no matter what!
  7. Most of the spectrum most of the time isn't used.
  8. The ultimate adaptation will come within the next 10 years with software defined radios + adaptable antennas + free spectrum searching.
  9. The future is far more likely to be dominated by the small/individual user rather than the giant corporation - and in both realms the opportunity for making more money from spectrum sales/renting will most likely diminish with time - the real wealth will be generated by the freedom to move bits and provide services that service and support business.

This all leads to the notion of a band free future, or at least a vast relaxation of banding top down with far looser definitions and control. It is feasible to start with all frequencies above 60GHz and slowly migrate down toward 1 - 10 GHz.

There is also now a good case for new applications and services operating at or below the noise level of all existing channels from 1MHz to 30GHz (including radio & TV broadcast) for short range data applications.

The equipment to do all of this is under development and will be available within the decade. If we do nothing it will just happen anyway!

Peter Cochrane.

Open Spectrum UK comment: An open wireless future beyond bands?

Peter Cochrane's industry and technology observations on wireless technology trends highlight a future wireless world beyond the current regulatory mindset.

For the emergent technology paradigm of shared spectrum use across bands, moves beyond the traditional spectrum management policy model for the regulation of the radio spectrum according to bands.

Hence Peter Cochrane's industry and technology observations inject some "uncommon sense" into the Ofcom spectrum policy review, the Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings. Informed public debate upon the strategic national resource of the radio spectrum has been conspicuous by its absence, as witness the Ofcom Spectrum Framework Review earlier this year which raised little press attention.

The future horizon promises a ubiquitous IP communications environment of instant access and innovative business and everyday uses, with wireless playing a key role in the brave new converged world.

Perhaps the time is ripe for a fresh audit of regulatory thinking, to re-assess the technology, economic, and public policy tools for spectrum management policy. Perhaps also to engage wider public debate upon the strategic national resource of the radio spectrum, "The Invisible Wealth of Nations".

Open spectrum UK argues for a healthy mix of the commercial and the public interest, of licensed and licence-exempt access to the radio spectrum, to deliver an open future for wireless in which innovation and creativity thrive.

Note: Celebrated technology futurist Peter Cochrane, BT's former Chief Technologist and co-founder of ConceptLabs, publishes a regular column in silicon.com entitled Peter Cochrane's Uncommon Sense Blog here. See his latest book Uncommon Sense : Out of the Box Thinking for An In the Box World here.
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