Spectrum crunch report: There are 'persistent errors' in projections of demand for wireless

According to a new research paper, worries over a looming "spectrum crunch" may not be accurate. The paper investigated recent forecasts including the estimate of a 275 MHz spectrum shortage by 2014 from the FCC and an estimate of a 1,280-MHz  to 1,720-MHz spectrum shortage by 2020 from the ITU.

"In hindsight, both estimates clearly overstated demand; however, they remain the basis for policy direction, and their underlying accuracy has not been evaluated in a systematic manner," the authors of the paper found.

Moreover, the authors argued that continuing to rely on incorrect forecasts for wireless demand could lead to inefficient decisions on spectrum policy and overpayment on wireless assets.

"Our findings suggest the mobile industry contains much higher levels of inherent demand uncertainty than is commonly estimated and that business and governments may not be fully factoring it into their policy decisions," the authors conclude. "To reduce dependence on uncertain estimates, government officials should consider assigning spectrum allocations with greater flexibility of use. Additionally, we recommend that policymakers use demand projections only when they are transparent, have authorial accountability, and comply with processes to reduce conflicts of interest." Paper

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