Comparing international approaches to spectrum policy

Allocating spectrum, the radio waves on which wireless technologies depend, is a multifaceted challenge for policy makers across the globe.

Each determination requires a balancing of interests: who should get to use radio frequencies; in what areas; for how long; for what purpose; under what conditions. Spectrum policy must consider consumer and corporate interests, and national economic policy.

Governments taking too much of a “hands-off” approach could lead to interference across spectrum bands, undermining valuable uses of wireless technologies; too much intervention could stifle innovation and competition by artificially raising prices, or allocating spectrum to operators with insufficient incentives or abilities to invest.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that New Zealand had once again decided to allocate mid-band spectrum to its 3 national mobile operators at no charge in order to help drive more rapid deployment of 5G. Two years ago, New Zealand cancelled its planned auction of 3.5GHz spectrum and simply assigned 40 MHz to Dense Air, 60 MHz to Spark, and 60 MHz to 2degrees. New Zealand’s approach stands as an interesting contrast to the multi-billion dollar spectrum auctions in so many other jurisdictions.

The International Telecommunications Society is hosting its final webinar of 2022, Driving Digital Transformation: International Comparisons of Spectrum Policy [pdf, 143KB] on November 15, 2022 at 9:30 am (Eastern).

Spectrum policy requires taking stock of international experiences to expand the pool of knowledge and identify global best practices. While no two jurisdictions are entirely alike, drawing on the global experience in the design of spectrum is critical to ensure that nations can benefit fully from their spectrum resources. Featuring four international experts, this webinar will compare international spectrum policies, including assignment mechanisms, deployment conditions, and governance frameworks. In doing so, these global experts will reveal lessons for governments and others involved in spectrum policymaking, as well as the implications for the global digital transformation.

The speakers are:

  • Dr. Helaina Gaspard, co-founder and Director, Governance & Institutions, of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) at the University of Ottawa. Her work centres on key actors of fiscal ecosystems, while leveraging relationships with partners such as the World Bank, the National Governors Association, the OECD and the International Budget Partnership. The IFSD recently completed a report for comparing spectrum assignment mechanisms across countries.
  • Dr. Marja Matinmikko-Blue, Research Director of Infotech Oulu Institute and Director of Sustainability and Regulation of 6G Flagship at the University of Oulu. She coordinated the writing of twelve 6G White Papers that were published and led the development of the White Paper on 6G Drivers and the UN SDGs. Marja has published over 170 scientific papers.
  • Dr. Petrus Potgieter, Professor in Decision Sciences at the University of South Africa and a researcher at the Institute for Technology and Network Economics. He conducts research on the impact of new technologies to the economy, policy and society. Petrus is a board member of the ITS, and editorial board member of the Journal of Telecommunications Policy.
  • Ms. Janette Stewart, senior spectrum expert at Analysys Mason, with 25 years’ experience in radio engineering, wireless technologies, spectrum policy and spectrum management. Prior to 2001 she worked for the UK Radiocommunications Agency (now Ofcom). Janette’s expertise lies in mobile, wireless and broadband technologies and markets.

Registration for the webinar is free.

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