We Need a Spectrum Festivus for the Rest of Us

We Need a Spectrum Festivus for the Rest of Us

Rob Alderfer
VP, Technology Policy

Dec 6, 2017

Season’s greetings! As we get our annual lists together, here’s one I bet you forgot: Spectrum. But, I’m sorry to tell you, without spectrum that shiny new iPhone X won’t live up to its potential.

Spectrum is the fuel for our wireless communications revolution. It is the bandwidth in the sky – literally, we’re talking about airwaves - and without it, our devices suffocate. We now have more mobile phones than people, and the "things" in the Internet of Things number in the billions, with more to come. With all of that growth, we are running out of spectrum space!

How to get more?

Well, it’s complicated. Spectrum is apportioned by the government, so ultimately we need regulators to make more space for us. It’s a pretty technical job, and CableLabs has been involved in pushing that forward for years, particularly for Wi-Fi and other innovative technologies. But, it is a job that’s never done, because we keep seeing more wireless growth. So there’s much more for the government to do here. And we have ideas… are you listening, Washington, Ottawa, Beijing, and Brussels?

But, there’s an industry role here too.

With the spectrum we have, we need to make the best use of it – and that will be true regardless of how much more spectrum governments make available. That’s up to us to figure out, especially in Wi-Fi spectrum, which is also home to many other technologies. That’s right, we have to learn to share. This is done through technical standards, which set the rules of the road so that we all play nicely with each other. As more technologies are developed – LTE-U was just the beginning - and with more and more devices sharing the spectrum, playing nicely is going to become ever more important.

So, this holiday season, spectrum sharing is caring. Happy holidays!

You can learn more about spectrum by watching our video below: