Sunday, January 28, 2007

FCC Diversifies - Now Managing Child Obesity Issues

Diversification may be a smart option for many these days - "never put all your eggs in one basket" as the saying goes - but, in my opinion, a recent initiative by the FCC takes diversification to the extreme. Not only that, the subject the folks at the Portals are now promoting has absolutely nothing to do with spectrum matters per se. (They've even gone so far as to set up a Task Force with a web page on the FCC's web site - complete with animation AND audio no less, to support this initiative).

To be fair, the FCC has become involved through their activities concerning the regulation of television, broadcast media, and the advertising carried by it that is targeted towards children. But, while child obesity is a problem needing attention, it seems to me that there are other government agencies more suitable and effective at leading this initiative, not to mention those duties and responsibilities that are best carried out by the parents of these children in monitoring what their child watches or hears, or, in this case, eats and drinks.

In my view, there needs to be LESS of this type of diversification at the FCC. In fact, the Commission needs to return to its fundamental root purpose in life and concentrate its efforts on the management, allocation, and enforcement of its Rules and the protection of the electromagnetic (RF) spectrum rather than on matters of child obesity and other baby-sitting duties.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Wireless Primer for CIO's & IT Managers

Wireless (RF) technology is increasingly becoming an element of responsibility within the domain of IT managers or CIO's.

Most CIOs are experienced with the management of IT projects centering on computer systems and applications but may have limited or no experience with wireless (RF) communications projects (such as LMR systems) that often support mission critical, lifesaving, or daily enterprise operations.

The management of LMR or wireless networks pose many unique challenges which cannot be dealt with in the same manner as those associated with managing typical IT networks.

The purpose of this primer is to assist CIOs who have been entrusted with the management of LMR networks in addressing potentially unfamiliar issues unique to such networks. This primer highlights some of the similarities and differences between LMR networks and traditional IT networks from the technical, programmatic, and business perspectives. (PDF File)


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wireless/Radio Spectrum Management Resources

This 2006 paper Regulating Spectrum Management: Overview and Trends is intended to provide readers with a broad overview of wireless communications spectrum management concepts and issues, including a review of differences between traditional spectrum management methods and policy and recent innovations and practices due to technology advances. The approach taken is more descriptive than prescriptive, allowing readers to make up their own mind on various perspectives. The authors have found that there are no standard solutions that fit every situation. (The "open", "commons", or "property rights" spectrum proponents may also wish to review this information.)

Further factual reading material for those wanting to learn more can be found by following these links:

Spectrum Management Overview

An introduction to spectrum management including best practices and considerations involved in the use and regulation of radio frequency spectrum.

Spectrum Policy and Planning

An outline of policy and planning considerations including technical standards and the allocation of spectrum.


An overview of the processes by which users gain access to the spectrum resource.

Spectrum Pricing

A review of the role of spectrum pricing and economics as it relates to the method of spectrum authorization being employed.

Spectrum Monitoring and Compliance

An overview of how spectrum monitoring and compliance can help users by avoiding incompatible frequency usage through identification of sources of harmful interference.

International Affairs

An overview of international harmonization of spectrum utilization.

Developing Spectrum Management Capacity

An overview of the strategies for organization, function, process development, staffing, staff retention and training for spectrum regulators.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Spectrum Matters Discussion Group established

For those reading this blog (or am I still on my own?) who may wish to engage in further discussions or, share their ideas or concerns about wireless spectrum matters in a forum or group setting, here's good news. Please visit the new Spectrum Matters discussion group on Yahoo! established just for that purpose. (Free registration required)

This moderated, spam-free group focuses on news, information, opinion, responsible debate, and commentary on all matters related to the potential social, economic, and technical benefits (or consequences) to be realized by updating legacy and/or implementing new wireless spectrum management policy in the United States.

Topics and discussions are targeted towards business, educational, industrial, enterprise, public safety, local, state, regional, federal government and similar types of PROFESSIONAL wireless users who depend on spectrum in their daily activities and who want to learn more about how and why wireless spectrum matters can, will, or already have had an impact on them.

If you have an interest in wireless communications in general and spectrum issues in particular, please join us. Membership requires a response to a New Member Confirmation Request emailed to you during the sign-up process.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Kill the FCC? Sell Off the Spectrum?

I ran across this intriguing - if not radical - commentary on the Slate web site recently. At first glance, the idea that the FCC be eliminated (I must admit that this same thought has also propagated through my mind once or twice in my career, but I've managed - for various reasons - to control myself so far!) and all the wireless spectrum sold off (which, in my opinion, would CERTAINLY NOT be as wise a move as some believe) might appear to be a reasonable solution to resolving some pressing spectrum allocation issues that are - and have been for quite sometime - currently simmering on someone's back burner deep within the Portals.

Take a quick peek at the article - there are some valid points made - but, also ask yourself whether or not we - and the wireless spectrum we all so passionately desire access to - would really be any better off by subscribing to this method of spectrum management? While the author accurately notes that "the old ideas about spectrum capacity (and regulation) are out, and new ones about spectrum efficiency are in", I'd suggest that a more balanced approach would be a better path to follow.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Apply "Litmus Test" to New Wireless Technology

Having spent the last 30+ years in the private land mobile two-way radio and mobile communications business - where "wireless" first began, by the way - I've often been both intrigued and thoroughly disgusted (sometimes simultaneously) with some of the marketing "hype" and often false (ok - is "misunderstood" a better word?) promises offered to wireless spectrum users by many players in today's "new" wireless industry. This has been particularly true when it comes to some of the technology "stuff" that professional and Public Safety wireless users have had to sort out. Without boring you with all that bothers me (and the reasons why), may I instead encourage you to take a moment to read this before making any rash moves regarding the alleged capabilities and purported suitability of some of the new "whiz-bang" wireless products and services you've been hearing about lately?

Thanks! Perhaps we'll both feel better if you do; I know I will.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spectrum "White Space" debate heating up

The debates for and against using wireless "white spaces" of spectrum - that is, the unassigned (and unused) frequencies in between assigned TV broadcast channels - are getting louder. In one camp are the "open spectrum" or "commons" proponents (some would call them the "anything goes" folks); in another are the broadcasters, intent on "protecting" their over-the-air turf (does anyone really watch over-the-air TV anymore?); and in yet another camp, are those scratching their heads, wondering what the hell the outcome of these debates will have on everyone - particularly on those who would attempt to productively use these "white spaces". Remember, this spectrum is unlicensed spectrum, which is pretty much unregulated, unprotected, (read "FCC rules unenforced") spectrum.

For your reading pleasure, here are two papers on the subject - one for and one against the use of "white spaces". Read them and decide for yourself which camp - if either - you would support. Then, read this.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spectrum and Improving Public Safety Communications

The author of this paper has some interesting views on how the government could improve Public Safety communications. While many of his points are indeed valid, very serious consideration, debate, and well-thought-out implementation strategies will be needed to bring his ideas to life.

Read the paper and decide for yourself here:


Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Brief Comparison of Spectrum Policy Methods

For the typical individual, attempting to understand or comprehend why spectrum matters is not an easy nor simple task, which more than likely explains why most don't even bother. For these folks, perhaps reading this short paper describing the three major areas of thought regarding spectrum policy will help put much of what you hear or have read on the subject into the proper context.

A Comparative Analysis of Spectrum Management Regimes

By Johannes M. Bauer
Department of Telecommunication, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan



Spectrum management influences the evolution of the mobile communications industry. Administrative "command and control" spectrum management, "market-based" approaches, and "commons" or "open spectrum" approaches are analyzed. These methods have unique advantages and disadvantages and no single approach is superior on all counts. Optimal spectrum policy will have to determine the right mix of these methods rather than adopting one model.

Basically, what this paper says is that balanced spectrum management policies are needed to satisfy the wireless communications requirements of all competing spectrum users. Unfortunately, not only is there NO up-to-date official spectrum policy in the United States to guide us, but the current methods of management and allocation (not to mention Rules enforcement) of the spectrum are not by any means well-balanced - other than in terms of how many dollars the government is able to place in the Treasury by selling the airwaves. (But wait; that's another issue all by itself, and may be the topic of a future post.)


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The "Open Spectrum" Perspective

Here are couple of links to items worthy of a read if for no other reason than to provide examples of what type of information (?) and rhetoric is being spread as "fact" to those who might be interested - or naive - enough to listen - and many are.

The author says, "Opening the spectrum would turn a federally-managed 'permissions' system into an 'open market' for ideas and creativity." No kidding!

And, "the effects on our democracy and economy should not be underestimated." One cannot disagree with this statement, either.

Are these really the kinds of spectrum management concepts and uses that we need to be considering?

Open Spectrum FAQ

Why Open Spectrum Matters - The End of the Broadcast Nation

Compiled by David Weinberger

Web Site:
Last updated: 1.21.03