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Spectrum

Spectrum


I’m Ruth Milkman, I’m Chief of the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau. So, I was always really interested in journalism. I was editor
of my high school newspaper and I edited my law school newspaper and that gave me a strong
interest in communications, particularly on the media side. One of the things that was striking to me
was the advent of DSL and the cable modem service because that was the first time that
you had always on internet service and that really changed the way that people used the
internet. So, we’re talking about the nation’s airwaves,
which power everything from ham radio, marine radio, aviation radio to your cell phone and
your iPad and your smartphone… and the biggest challenge we have right now is the demand
for spectrum is just skyrocketing. People are using data in gigabytes and that means
that they consume, that they need a great deal more spectrum. We’re constantly trying to make sure that
the spectrum is in its most valuable use, we’re trying to trying to move away from a
command and control structure to a more market-based structure. We’re sort of in mid-transition. The amount of spectrum is going up like this
and the demand for spectrum is going up like this so our biggest challenge is this gap.
First of all, we have to make sure that all the spectrum is used as efficiently as possible.
The TV white spaces that we’re so excited about because for the first time you know
where they are, you can check a database to know who else is there, and you can switch
to a channel on which there isn’t anybody else present. I think we may look and see
that that is the most disruptive technology of this decade. I think it might surprise people to know how
much time is spent with disaster planning, with figuring out what is going on with weather
and various emergencies and making sure that the various licensing resources, the licensing,
the frequencies are in place. I think it’s very useful to have data out
there and one of the reasons it’s useful is because it’s used in unanticipated ways. One
is our spectrum dashboard, which lays out on the web for the first time an interactive
way of trying to figure out what spectrum is used for what.

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