Silicon Flatirons: Lofty spectrum sharing goals musn’t distract from immediate issues

BOULDER — While spectrum sharing is key to the future of telecommunications, strict regulations that move users toward sharing must not prohibit those users from successfully harnessing the spectrum for nearer term projects, U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Nathan Simington said. 

The Donald Trump appointee made this point during a brief address Friday at the Silicon Flatirons Frontiers in Spectrum Sharing conference. 

Silicon Flatirons is a Boulder-based group that fosters conversations among entrepreneurs, legal professionals, students and lawmakers.

The two-day conference held this week in Boulder brings together aerospace industry representatives, government officials and academics to discuss opportunities for spectrum sharing as economies across the globe continuously deploy new broadband and 5G technologies.

Spectrum congestion is a “good problem to have,” Simington said. Congestion means the spectrum is “desirable and heavily used.” When telecommunications was in its infancy, virtually any industry that asked could have a dedicated band because there was little competition. 

Still, Simington said, regulators must consider ways to encourage sharing among spectrum users. 

Exactly how that could work successfully in practice remains somewhat of a mystery.

Some, Simington said, have suggested that artificial intelligence and machine learning are the answer to developing a model to incentivize efficiency. 

Simington threw “a bit of cold water” on that idea because there are disagreements about what that efficiency should look like, so providing a computer with the requisite data set to develop an efficiency model is challenging. 

“We should be a little cautious about the speed at which [an AI-developed efficiency model] can be implemented,” he said. 

Regulators must prioritize the “immediate pressure for successful deployments” while weighing potential impacts on the future of spectrum sharing, Simington said. 

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BOULDER — While spectrum sharing is key to the future of telecommunications, strict regulations that move users toward sharing must not prohibit those users from successfully harnessing the spectrum for nearer term projects, U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Nathan Simington said. 

The Donald Trump appointee made this point during a brief address Friday at the Silicon Flatirons Frontiers in Spectrum Sharing conference. 

Silicon Flatirons is a Boulder-based group that fosters conversations among entrepreneurs, legal professionals, students and lawmakers.

The two-day conference held this week in Boulder brings together aerospace industry representatives, government officials and academics to discuss opportunities for spectrum sharing as economies across the globe continuously deploy new broadband and 5G technologies.

Spectrum congestion is a “good problem to have,” Simington said. Congestion means the spectrum is “desirable and heavily used.” When telecommunications was in its infancy, virtually any industry that asked could have a dedicated band because there was little competition. 

Still, Simington said, regulators must consider ways to encourage sharing among spectrum users. 

Exactly how that could work successfully in practice remains somewhat of a mystery.

Some, Simington said, have suggested that artificial intelligence and machine learning are the answer to developing a model to incentivize efficiency. 

Simington threw “a bit of cold water” on that idea because there are disagreements about what that efficiency should look like, so providing a computer with the requisite data set to develop an efficiency model is challenging. 

“We should be a little cautious about the speed at which [an AI-developed efficiency model] can be implemented,” he said. 

Regulators must prioritize the…