Nº 10 2012 > Global Symposium for Regulators | Special report
Setting spectrum policies in a digital mobile world
The session on setting spectrum policies, moderated by François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, discussed the measures needed to deal with rapid take-up of new broadband mobile applications and machine-to-machine communications in a hyperconnected world, while sustaining mobile next-generation network (NGN) deployment. The results relating to broadband achieved by the World Radiocommunication Conference (held in Geneva from 23 January to 17 February 2012) were also discussed.
Robert Horton, Senior ICT Expert and author of the GSR discussion paper on “Spectrum Policy in a hyperconnected digital mobile world” explained how increasing demand for broadband and mobility call for a rethinking of spectrum policy. With wireless penetration in urban areas currently at 65 per cent, it is easy to understand how future urbanization, together with a good spectrum policy, would give all citizens access to education and a better lifestyle, as well as promoting economic and social cohesion. Data traffic is growing, with huge penetration of smartphones and tablets in both developed and developing countries, and cloud computing is highly data-intensive. If nothing is done to meet the growing demand for spectrum, many mobile carriers will be out of business within three years. As well as implementing the high-level principles produced by GSR at its meeting in Tunisia in 2005, countries should conduct inventories of their national spectrum needs, and develop national spectrum plans linked with their national broadband plans.
Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), United States, agreed that there is a need to use spectrum more efficiently. Vacant spectrum between television channels should be made available, and mechanisms put in place to offer more opportunities for spectrum sharing.
Norifumi Yamaguchi, Director of the International Frequency Policy Office, in Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, described how a task force established in 2001 had estimated that mobile services in that country would need an extra 1600 MHz in 2016. The question remained of how to obtain that spectrum. The government envisaged obliging operators to evacuate some spectrum in the coming 10 years, and would set aside funds to compensate them, as necessary.