There's been a lot of talk over the years about the various studies and statistics used to measure broadband in the US. Very often the figures don't tell a completely accurate story, so there's been a push for the government to get better data as a part of the formation of a national broadband plan. It's clear, though, that wireless access will play a big part of the broadband future of the country, but it has to be handled a little differently. Wired networks can always have more capacity added, but wireless networks have the constraint of a finite amount of radio spectrum. A big part of regulators' work in enabling mobile broadband to blossom is in ensuring that spectrum is being used efficiently. This is part of the drive behind plans like the digital TV transition and the white spaces spectrum, which seek to wring more productivity out of the airwaves. But for more of these types of efforts to move forward, it's crucial to get a better handle on just how the entire spectrum is being used, so a couple of senators have introduced legislation that would have the FCC and NTIA undertake a "spectrum inventory" detailing the usage of spectrum between 300 MHz and 3.5 GHz. Hopefully this will make it clearer how much valuable spectrum is being mismanaged or hoarded, and open the door to some new licensing policies, like spectrum markets, or even just the opening of more spectrum to unlicensed use to take advantage of new technologies.
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