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Got Spectrum? Smart Phones Using It Up, Say Experts

The demand for iPhones and Android phones is off the charts, but the available spectrum is shrinking, according to experts. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and other spectrum experts are urging the government to rethink its 100-year-old policies.

The demand for iPhones and Android phones has never been higher. The spectrum that the phones require to exchange data, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly scarce, according to experts. To make available more spectrum--the radio frequencies used to transmit sound, data, and video--the government must upgrade policies that have been in place for nearly 100 years to more innovative ways of sharing and allowing access to licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

The iPhone 5 launch last week will help fuel the demand for smartphones. The first version of the phone was released in 2007, and it has undoubtedly pushed smartphone development and innovation. What has yet to flourish, according to a panel of spectrum experts who spoke last Wednesday at Stanford University in Palo Alto, is an even more powerful platform, built on the invisible radio waves that cellular carriers, broadcasters, and even household appliances use.

Julius Genachowski, FCC chairman; Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Relly Media; Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google; and Mark Gorenberg, managing director of Hummer Winbald Venture Partners, discussed a report published earlier this summer, "Realizing The Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum To Spur Economic Growth."

"Half the data you consume is over a narrow band, which you share with your microwave," said Schmidt during the panel discussion. "When you have riots on the street when people can't get their phones to work…we are approaching that threshold."

Genachowski further explained the spectrum crunch in this video interview:

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