Sharing Spectrum through Spectrum Policy Reform and Cognitive Radio
Traditionally, interference protection is guaranteed through a policy of spectrum licensing, whereby wireless systems get exclusive access to spectrum. This is an effective way to prevent interference, but it leads to highly inefficient use of spectrum. Cognitive radio along with software radio, spectrum sensors, mesh networks, and other emerging technologies can facilitate new forms of spectrum sharing that would greatly improve spectral efficiency and alleviate scarcity, if spectrum policies are in place that support these forms of sharing. On the other hand, new technology that is inconsistent with spectrum policy will have little impact. This paper discusses policies that can enable or facilitate the use of many spectrum-sharing arrangements, where spectrumsharing arrangements are categorized as being based on either coexistence or cooperation, and as either sharing among equals or primary-secondary sharing. A shared band of spectrum may be managed directly by the regulator, or this responsibility may be delegated in large part to a license-holder. The type of sharing arrangement and the entity that manages it have great impact on which technical approaches are viable and effective. The most efficient and cost-effective form of spectrum sharing will depend on the type of systems involved, where systems under current consideration are as diverse as television broadcasters, cellular carriers, public safety systems, point-to-point links, and personal and local-area networks. In addition, while cognitive radio offers policy-makers the opportunity to improve spectral efficiency, cognitive radio also provides new challenges for enforcement of policies. A responsible regulator will not allow a device into the marketplace that might harm other systems. Thus, designers must seek innovative ways to assure regulators that new devices will comply with policy requirements and will not cause harmful interference.