acceptable in exchange for cooperative active access to other bands at suitable times, thus permitting effective radio astronomical observations to take place during transmission-free windows.

Finding: Nascent technologies exist for cooperative spectrum usage, but the standards and protocols do not.

The above finding is one of the key points of this section: the smart, inexpensive, portable, and highly networked electronics that are incorporated into many devices now have the capabilities needed for intelligent spectral sharing, but the organization of the manufacturing sector and the regulatory impetus needed to implement such sharing need to be developed jointly between the scientific and the industrial communities. It is likely that if such coordination can be developed, there will be additional spinoff benefits that will further facilitate spectral sharing within the purely active community as well.


As the previous chapters and sections have illustrated, the nature of the costs of the interference problem for the EESS and RAS is wide ranging. The costs are manifested as impaired or even unusable data; costs are also incurred when the EESS and RAS programs must engineer technical or other fixes to mitigate the effects of interference on their operations.

Few of these costs can be monetized easily. The reason is that most of the value provided by the EESS and RAS is embodied in public goods—these include the host of environmental benefits and the improved ability to manage natural resources enabled by the EESS, and the enhanced or wholly new science understanding brought by the RAS. By definition, the societal benefit derived from public goods is difficult to express in dollar values. For example, even though improved forecasts are linked to reductions in weather-related loss of life and property, backing out the contribution of EEES data to this outcome is complex and difficult. It is even more complicated to back out from such a calculation the degradation associated with RFI.

This very problem is at the heart of spectrum allocation decisions when commercial services such as cellular telephones have an easily demonstrated market value, but scientific and other public uses of spectrum do not. As is well known from the literature on the value of public goods, however, simply because these goods are hard to monetize does not lessen their importance to society. Nor does this difficulty reduce the burden on decision makers to accord high importance

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement