In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum

As next-generation networks continue to evolve, new questions and possibilities arguably arise. Among the questions are whether it is possible to create a connectivity business model founded substantially or completely on use of unlicensed or shared spectrum. In the past, mobile service providers have eschewed such approaches, relying instead on licensed spectrum. 

But changes seem to be coming.

It is easy to argue that shared spectrum and unlicensed spectrum now are viewed as major opportunities by a growing number of tier-one application and now device suppliers, enterprises, infrastructure and device suppliers, including Apple, which wants the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to increase the amount of unlicensed spectrum to be made available above 95 GHz on an unlicensed basis, and on a shared basis.

Apple also wants wider contiguous bands of spectrum, creating blocks of spectrum wider than 1 GHz to 7 GHz.

A larger point is that licensed spectrum essentially acts a means to create scarcity, historically seen as a business asset by mobile service providers. Unlicensed spectrum arguably always acts to decrease scarcity, and therefore increases the potential for competition.  So availability of lots of unlicensed and shared spectrum will change supply and demand, as well as the value and price of spectrum.

So it should come as no surprise that tier-one application, platform and device suppliers favor greater reliance on unlicensed and shared spectrum. Those assets make it easier for application, platform or device suppliers to create communications capabilities that support use of their products and business models.


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