In Blog

Dean Bubley

Dean Bubley
Founder & Director
Disruptive Analysis

By Dean Bubley

Imagine how the world might look in the year 2030. We’ve improved industries and economies with IoT devices and applications – what are known as “cyber-physical systems.” Human healthy lifespans have increased because of better medical treatments, as well as monitoring of our bodies and minds. Transportation is faster, greener, and safer. Artificial intelligence has permeated our interactions with the world, through personal assistants, augmented reality, or predictive maintenance for things we own. Threats and risks have evolved, too, sadly.

Central to our new experiences is communications, especially of data. People, devices, businesses, governments, and perhaps even “autonomous organizations” rely on wireless connections of many types and business models. Sensors are everywhere – and so are computing resources, from the “edge” to the cloud. Some networks are provided like today, as subscription services or broadcast. But some are new models – cooperative meshes, private wireless both indoors and out, and utilities provided by local authorities or businesses.

But underlying these networks – of whatever type and business model – is spectrum. The question is what the optimum policies are, to ensure there is both enough connectivity, and that rules don’t inhibit new delivery models. We need to think about minimizing risks and “fragility.” While monocultures are efficient, they are also vulnerable to shocks. How do we balance today’s demand for more spectrum from well-known stakeholders like MNOs, while preserving “optionality” as needs change? What about national vs. local networks, service models vs. owned, and other parameters? Are regulators asking the right questions – looking through the lens of the possible future? Do we need “more of the same” or something that encourages “network diversity” and experimentation? We have already seen huge innovation around unlicensed bands, with WiFi, Bluetooth, and LPWAN networks. What else might evolve from spectrum-sharing or easier sale and trading of frequencies?