The growth of the wireless broadband industry is a step toward helpingof making high-speed Internet access available to all Americans by 2007. But the industry is still in its infancy, and the groundwork for the technologies that are expected to be most widely used, such as WiMax, are still being laid out.
Policy-makers from the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration voiced their perspective on the matter at the WCA 2004 conference here. The regulators are trying to more efficiently manage radio spectrum to encourage private companies to bring broadband to the shrinking number of Americans who do not have it.
"Given that (spectrum) is a finite resource...it is very, very valuable," said Kathleen Abernathy, a commissioner with the FCC.
The FCC has already been working to change the allocation of spectrum and is working on a. The agency is looking at to wireless and expanding bands in the 5GHz range.
The FCC is expected to meet June 10 to discuss reforming the 2.5GHz radio bands to 2.7GHz and making it available for licensed wireless broadband use.
Cable and DSL services have helped bring broadband access to--a significant increase from just a couple of years ago. But wireless services are expected to dramatically improve that growth, because the technology will make it faster and cheaper for carriers to install and manage networks.
"This technology gives companies significant advantages when it comes to deployments, because you don't have to set up a new infrastructure...so there isn't a lot of tearing up of streets needed to set up networks," said Joe English, a WiMax campaign manager for chipmaker Intel.
Still,. The allocation of spectrum has been a particularly touchy issue in the technology and communications industries. Critics have complained that spectrum has been poorly distributed, stifling innovation. With new wireless technologies on the way, such as EvDO (Evolution Data Only) and WiMax, issues like interference and limited range will likely become more of a problem.
"Many of the regulatory issues are quite complicated," Andrew Kreig, president of the WCA, told conference attendees.