Recently, the FCC proposed a change to current airwave regulation that could increase the amount of available airspace by up to 35%. The proposition is based upon opening up a broader range of the high-frequency spectrum for unlicensed use. The plan was spurred by pressure from both Congress and the White House, as well as congestion on the existing range of frequencies available. This congestion is the result of an ever-increasing number of wi-fi networks, and high bandwidth cell phone users. The commissioners developed a plan that could allow for expansion into roughly 195 megahertz of space that is currently untouched by commercial activity.
Proponents of the expansion are eager to see what new wave of innovation may come as a result of increased operating space. Some experts believe the program could augment wireless data transfer rates as much as a hundred times over existing broadband levels. Additionally, similar initiatives have historically paved the path for everyday items such as TV remote controls, garage door openers, and a variety of other devices. The major players who stand to benefit from this type of initiative are of course large cellular carriers such as AT&T and Verizon, who are currently pushing traffic from their own networks onto existing wi-fi infrastructure to provide the speed that consumers are searching for.
However, there is some pushback on the FCC’s proposed changes, as the military, NASA, other government agencies, and even public-interest research groups have expressed concern. These stakeholders are currently using these airwaves for security, surveillance, testing, and other purposes, and fear that adding traffic to their frequencies could cause harmful interference that negatively affects their ability to operate effectively.
Ultimately, it seems that our current demand for data transfer is ready to exceed the existing capacity of the system, and change seems prudent. However, it will be important during the public commentary period that concerns of the relevant parties are heard and addressed effectively in order to create a smooth transition that benefits consumer, public, and private interests in a balanced manner.