Government Collects Big Data on Wireless Spectrum Usage

On Monday, Canada’s federal government announced plans to assess how residents consume smartphone data currently, to understand how wireless spectrum is truly being used, reported the Financial Post. The government does know that data traffic across wireless networks continues to increase, especially with the rise in use of wireless devices.

According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Honorable Minister Navdeep Bains, “We can’t make more wireless spectrum, but we can make better use of it. We need to know, in real time, where there are unused radio waves that could be put to work. Big data is the key to understanding that. The research being conducted at the Big Data Analytics Centre has the potential to transform not only the telecommunications sector but all sectors of the economy.”

The Big Data Analytics Centre at the Communications Research Centre in Ottawa will determine how to use data to best enable 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT), all requiring immense data to operate. This unique research lab will focus on innovation for wireless communication, focusing on collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data on Canada’s wireless spectrum, a public resource that’s regulated by the government.

Academics are especially interested in the results of the study. Gregory Taylor, principal investigator for Canadian Spectrum Policy Research and a professor at the University of Calgary, told the Financial Post that historically, spectrum policy decisions have been made by parties with a strong financial interest in telecom, mainly wireless providers. There’s debate over whether enough spectrum exists, but no hard data has been supplied to prove or refute the amount of spectrum available. That’s why the government is investing in technology and infrastructure to optimize the available spectrum. Before Canada auctions off its 600 MHZ spectrum sometime in 2020, this spectrum research will certainly give better insights into whether Canada truly has a spectrum capacity issue.

Moving forward, big data is really the only way to determine whether the available spectrum is used efficiently allowing the government to predict where there is unused wireless spectrum that can be put to work to ensure reliable and accessible coverage, regardless of traffic load.

May 10, 2017      

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