You can now download the paper I wrote for a Mass Communications class I took during the fall semester (also with a more practical title): Water Law Principles Applied to Spectrum Opportunities for Wireless Rural Broadband (PDF — 37 pages – with links) (Google Docs – without links).
In the paper, I recommend that the FCC utilize principles from water law to open up radio spectrum to encourage mobile/wireless broadband in rural areas.
From the introduction:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order, [the White Spaces Order], in November 2008 to free up unused radio spectrum in the television frequency band for unlicensed use by low power devices. A goal of the order is to help lower the costs of entry to potential wireless broadband providers by making more spectrum available for free to businesses and consumers.
One shortcoming in relation to rural users is the order’s failure to address backhaul between a rural community and backbone networks. Frequencies in the television spectrum that are the focus of the White Spaces Order do not lend themselves well to point to point communication necessary for longer distance backhaul from a community to a backbone connection point. Without access to spectrum for backhaul, rural communities will be forced to rely on other alternatives such as more expensive fiber cables. As such, the Commission will need to provide spectrum that is better suited for backhaul required for viable and economic high speed Internet services in rural communities. To that end, I suggest that the Commission apply three modified principles of water law that: 1) require spectrum use be beneficial and reasonable; 2) require the licensee to actually use the spectrum and not hold a license for speculative purposes; and 3) provide for equivalent replacement of a communications signal.
Applying these principles will free up unused and underutilized spectrum for more productive purposes including point to point backhaul connections.
Continue reading: Water Law Principles Applied to Spectrum Opportunities for Wireless Rural Broadband (PDF — 37 pages – with links) (Google Docs – without links).