The wireless world is on the brink of a revolution. Traditionally, radio spectrum was statically cut into different bands that were then allocated to different uses, and within any band, channels were assigned to individual entities (like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.). This was done for a practical reason — to limit radio interference. One set of bands, the unlicensed bands, is special in that everyone is allowed to use them, and devices are individually responsible for managing interference. Crudely speaking, the traditional static approach corresponds to having dedicated wires while the traditional unlicensed approach corresponds to purely packet-based networking. The advance of information technology and the congestion of radio spectrum have brought us to a point where we need to basically bring software defined networking (SDN) ideas to radio spectrum. Instead of having static allocations (done by lawyers), we will have Spectrum Access Systems (SAS) that manage wireless use across different systems. This involves bringing in modern techniques involving databases, wireless signal processing, learning, security, mechanism-design, and networking. It also touches on law and economics. Because SASs change the competitive landscape, they also create all sorts of interesting business-model questions that need to be explored.
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