scarcity Archives


An international treaty document, the Reference Paper that is part of the Fourth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services, states that spectrum is a scarce resource. It is scarce only because (a) exclusive use of most frequencies is the norm (WiFi is an exception), and (b) the bands for which cheap equipment is manufactured are few. So the scarcity is not “natural,” it is human-created. Therefore Professor Read, as quoted in the NYT, is correct: Arguing that the nation could run out of spectrum is like saying it was going to run out of a color, says David P. Reed, one of the original architects of the Internet and a former professor of computer science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What exactly is a spectrum shortage?

Posted on December 20, 2011  /  2 Comments

When I was in government, I heard complaints of shortages of scarce resources and ability to earn adequate revenue all the time. I paid attention, but always verified. Specifically, with regard to claims of spectrum “shortage,” there is a problem. It is true that without a minimum allotment (say 2.5 MHz for CDMA and 5 MHz coupled on GSM), it’s next to impossible to properly design a network.