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Understanding Spectrum Liberalisationsignal strength
Saturday 21 November, 2015, 12:14 - Spectrum Management
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It's been a long time since Wireless Waffle reviewed a new book. That's largely because there are very few books published on the topic of spectrum management. But Lo! a new book has fallen across our desk. 'Understanding Spectrum Liberalisation' has been written by the trio of Martin Sims and Toby Youell (both journalists with PolicyTracker, a journal of the latest radio spectrum news) and Richard Womersley (who is a spectrum consultant with global spectrum experts LS telcom), all pictured below (for some reason in a Warholesque style).

sims youell womersley

understanding spectrum liberalisationSo what about the book itself? It's a surprisingly easy read, yet tackling some relatively complex topics. The authors take the view that the various mechanisms and methods based on 'liberalisation' that have tried to get spectrum from the tight-fisted hands of the regulators, into the free-spirited commercial environment, have either partly failed, or are destined to fail, and that the 'next generation' of spectrum management, which they consider to be sharing, will be the next fad to try and achieve the same thing.

The book is split into four parts:
  • Part 1: Setting the Scene - this section discusses what liberalisation was supposed to achieve, and provides a handy and simple to understand introduction to the technical issues that the reader needs to know in order to understand the rest of the book.
  • Part 2: Liberalisation in Action - discussed how liberalisation has been applied both in different sectors (e.g. broadcasting and satellite) and in technology terms (e.g. UWB and White-space).
  • Part 3: The Limits of Liberalisation - picks out examples of where the liberalised approach to spectrum management has not, maybe, had the positive outcomes expected and explains why this might be the case.
  • Part 4: The New Agenda - looks at some of the newer techniques being introduced such as Licensed Shared Access, 5G and Li-Fi, and suggests that it will require a combination of regulatory relaxation, technical innovation and commercial pressure for truly efficient spectrum use to be yielded.
The book is written in an informative yet informal style, for example:
The Swiss auction showed that the increasing complication [of auctions] could have disastrous consequences, rather like using a bullwhip to swat a fly on a friend's face - a very risky enterprise.

The book concludes with a section on how the ITU works (or doesn't work) and a handy glossary of a wide range of technical and policy terms that regularly crop up throughout the book.

A good read for anyone involved in radio spectrum management, especially those in a regulatory capability, or who have regular interactions with regulators or some of the bigger institutions and organisations that are shaping or defining spectrum policies.
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