Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access: A Regulatory Analysis
75 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 30, 2016
This working paper explores alternative means for broadband expansion: wireless broadband. Although at present, wireless broadband cannot provide anywhere close to the type of capacity available from advanced fiber networks, it has many other advantages. First, and perhaps foremost, wireless alternatives may be the only economically feasible means of broadband expansion to certain parts of the country. Although they cannot provide capacity that is measurable in terabits, as fiber networks might, wireless technology might nevertheless suffice for many modern applications: information acquisition for job search, health, and other needs; distance learning; and even streaming. Second, wireless broadband can permit mobility, something that wireline networks are not designed to provide. Finally, wireless networks can be deployed more rapidly than wireline networks, so that even if there are plans for higher capacity, wireline deployment in the future, wireless can meet more urgent needs. This report aims to explore the various regulations and technical aspects that characterize different wireless broadband alternatives. The report begins by exploring the historical and policy developments for various spectrum bands that are being actively used or could see near term deployment for the provision of wireless broadband. In addition, for several of these bands, we examine the existing rules governing these bands in the Code of Federal Regulations. In addition to looking at Federal spectrum related regulations, we also consider rules related to wireless infrastructure deployment at both the Federal and State levels. Finally, we synthesize our findings by comparing the costs and benefits associated with different spectrum bands.
Keywords: spectrum, wireless, broadband, regulation, USA
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