Some tests of spectrum usage in Brussels, Belgium

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Laws and regulations for spectrum management — worldwide — are based on the foregone assumption that “spectrum is scarce.” This has become to be known as the “doctrine of spectrum scarcity,” and because of this “doctrine,” we believe that we must pass laws that govern the allocation and management of spectrum.

What if this fundamental assumption is wrong? What if spectrum is in fact not scarce – or even worse – if it is our regulation of spectrum that creates or exacerbates the legal and regulatory assumption of scarcity ?

The attached piece is an excerpt from the author’s PhD dissertation completed at KU Leuven. This portion deals with empirical data of spectrum usage in Brussels and analysis of the data in the context of wireless spectrum allocation and regulation. We look at specific regulatory allocations – such as the FM radio band and the television band – and we conclude that new regulations have allowed for increased usage of this spectrum, and should continue to do so. We also see that regulations that have been ostensibly passed that prohibit broadcasting of any kind in certain frequency ranges (e.g., the military bands) have resulted in not just under use, but possibly a complete lack of use of these frequencies. We conclude that in order for us to improve the regulation and management of spectrum, we must first conduct empirical analysis of how spectrum is used.

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