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Trends and Precedents Favoring a Regulatory Embrace of Smart Radio Technologies

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6 Author(s)

Burgeoning demands for communications bandwidth stress the abilities of military and civil spectrum managers to provide needed access to spectrum resources while taking appropriate measures to avoid causing harmful interference to legacy users. Empirical analysis shows that radio frequency (RF) bandwidth is often available: measurement data indicate that while most channels are used at some times, most channels remain unused at any given time. Going forward, so- called "smart radio" technologies will be able to exploit these holes in the RF spectrum and will play a crucial role in achieving the core objectives of efficient spectrum management. The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's ("DARPA") next generation communications program ("XG") is on the vanguard of smart radio innovations. In particular, XG technology uses automated intelligence at a system's edges in order to navigate real-time fluctuations in spectral conditions that cannot be precisely predicted in advance. This dynamism will enable opportunistic use of intermittently available spectrum. This paper examines how the introduction of smart radio technologies fit within past precedents and current regulatory developments involving shared use of spectrum resources. The key finding is that implementation of smart radios in the near term would represent an incremental policy step that is consistent with policy trends and recent regulatory actions. Two perspectives militate in favor of this conclusion. First, smart radio systems enable regulators and spectrum managers to more efficiently achieve long-held policy and spectrum management objectives. And second, the regulatory prospects of smart radios are further buoyed by contemporary examples of approved technologies and sharing methods that are modest precursors to XG. Case studies are used to underscore that while smart radios promote vast gains in spectrum accessibility and interference avoidance, implementation of smart radio system- - s follows a lengthening line of precedents promoting flexibility and collaborative sharing techniques. Accordingly, in the face of sharp increases in demand from a wide assortment of spectrum users, it is clear that regulators and spectrum managers will - and, indeed, should - embrace smart radio systems as a tool to help resolve the spectrum access challenges of today and tomorrow.

Published in:

2007 2nd IEEE International Symposium on New Frontiers in Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks

Date of Conference:

17-20 April 2007