Innovation Trumps Government Regulation Once Again

Most people have likely heard about the shortage of electromagnetic spectrum. For those who haven’t there exists a finite amount of spectrum that can be used for the transmission of wireless signals and people have recently been stating that we’ve run into a barrier: we’re fast running out of spectrum for new innovations.

To regulate this spectrum the United States established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who auction off spectrum to the highest bidders. The result of this is that multi-billion dollar companies are the only ones who can actually afford to license spectrum and therefore small competitors are kept from entering the market, which is exactly how the big money players like it. Effectively the FCC has wiped out competition for AT&T, Verizon, and other holders of electromagnetic spectrum.

Looking at the electromagnetic spectrum demonstrates a stark difference between how government busybodies attempt to solve problems and actual intelligent individuals attempt to solve problems. The government saw a potential shortage, stepped in, and gave themselves a monopoly on determining who can and can’t use spectrum. Innovators saw a potential shortage and began to work on ways to bypass the problem, a goal that they’ve made some great strides in:

A striking demonstration of a means to boost the information-carrying capacity of radio waves has taken place across the lagoon in Venice, Italy.

The technique exploits what is called the “orbital angular momentum” of the waves – imparting them with a “twist”.

Varying this twist permits many data streams to fit in the frequency spread currently used for just one.

The research paper can be found here. I’d be a liar if I claimed to understand what they’re doing on any technical level but their conclusion leaves me with hope:

5. Conclusions

Our experimental findings that EM OAM can be used for increasing radio transmission capacity without increasing bandwidth is likely to open up new perspectives on wireless communications and radio-based science. History tells us that Marconi invented the wireless telegraph and from that the communication world spread its branches in all directions [1]. All current radio communication services are based on various forms of phase, frequency and/or amplitude modulation of the EM radiation in the form of EM linear momentum (i.e. integrated Poynting vector or energy flux). In order that many different broadcasting stations are able to transmit simultaneously without overlapping their radio signals, Marconi suggested that the total available spectrum of radio frequencies be divided into many non-overlapping frequency subbands [23]. Now, the wide use of wireless communication has unavoidably led to the saturation of all available frequency bands, even after the adoption of artificial techniques that increase band capacity. We have experimentally shown that by using helicoidal parabolic antennae, the use of OAM states might dramatically increase the capacity of any frequency band, allowing the use of dense coding techniques in each of these new vortex radio channels. This might represent a concrete proposal for a possible solution to the band saturation problem.

Moreover, our experimental findings demonstrate that the spatial phase signature was preserved even in the far-field region and for incoherent non-monochromatic wave beams. These results open up new perspectives not only for wireless communication but also for physics and astronomy, including the possible detection of Kerr black holes in the test general relativity [21].

We can effectively increase what we’re capable of doing with wireless spectrum without having to obtain more of it. Innovation is the only hope we have of solving problems and innovation is something the state never attempts. Since the state enjoys monopoly control of whatever it desires it has no reason to innovate, instead preferring to sit on its laurels. Free competition is the solution to humanity’s problems, not government regulations.