FCC Eyes Blockchain to Better Manage Scarce Wireless Spectrums

The FCC could one day use blockchain to monitor and manage wireless spectrums to support the growing requirements of the internet of things.

May 6, 2019 at 2:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:08 a.m. UTC

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could one day use blockchain to monitor and manage wireless spectrums to support the growing requirements of the internet of things (IoT).

With Juniper Research predicting that there will be 50 billion connected IoT devices and sensors by 2022, the agency is keen to find a way to manage the required radio frequencies more efficiently and transparently.

As reported by Computerworld on Monday, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told MIT Technology Review's Business of Blockchain conference last week that a future world with such numbers of IoT devices will need a "real-time market" instead of today's "clunky" licensing system.

She added:

"We have this registry from all of these licenses, but on a day-to-day basis we don't actually know with great clarity what's being used and what's not being used. So if you put this on a public blockchain you'd have this record of where demand is for what airwaves."

Currently, spectrums are auctioned off one at a time in a process that is slow, complex to manage and expensive, according to the commissioner. Spectrums are also in short supply, with one option being to share them, with the FCC managing the rights to use different bands at different levels of priority. One idea touted in recent years is to build a market place that would issue permissions dynamically using AI, according to Computerworld.

If that can be achieved, said Rosenworcel, it would bring in new efficiencies and move the system from one of scarcity to one that can manage relative abundance.

The agency is currently investigating how blockchain tech could help that aim as a "thought experiment," she said, adding that the FCC has been speaking about the issue on Capitol Hill and to tech firms.

However, blockchain is only one of the options being looked at by the watchdog, with traditional databases also being tested for the purpose. Rosenworcel indicated that a blockchain system might still be five-10 years off, and may not be required at all.

Still, according to the article, she said that the tech might help other nations, which will also have to manage growing demands on their wireless frequencies and may have no agency to manage them.

"The power of making those airways work for connectivity is something that can change economies, it can change agriculture, it can change healthcare," she said.

Wireless telecoms masts image via Shutterstock 

The Festival for the Decentralized World
Thursday - Sunday, June 9-12, 2022
Austin, Texas
Save a Seat Now

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Trending

1
A16z Launches First Gaming Fund With $600M Commitment

The venture capital giant will invest in game studios, apps and infrastructure.

The venture capital giant will invest in game studios, apps and infrastructure.

2
First Mover Americas: Bitcoin Back Below $30K as Target's Earnings Miss Shows Effects of Inflation

The latest moves in crypto markets in context for May 18, 2022.

The latest moves in crypto markets in context for May 18, 2022.

3
Aave’s Decentralized Social Media Platform Arrives on Polygon

The launch of Lens Protocol comes weeks after Aave founder Stani Kulechov was temporarily suspended from Twitter.

The launch of Lens Protocol comes weeks after Aave founder Stani Kulechov was temporarily suspended from Twitter.

4
FTX, Liberty City Lead $20M Raise for Dev Platform DoraHacks

The hackathon startup will use the funds to launch an NFT-focused venture fund, among other things.

The hackathon startup will use the funds to launch an NFT-focused venture fund, among other things.