We catch up with the president of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA), a global cross-industry alliance focused on increasing dynamic access to unused radio frequencies. Dynamic spectrum management is increasingly being seen as a connectivity solution to the increasing demands of the digital world, and is something Nominet supports. Specifically, we have been active in using TV White Space technologies to make use of areas of the spectrum left vacant following the digital switchover to help connect rural communities.
How and why did you become interested in spectrum?
I did my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and was always very interested in communications. I decided to go to law school and found that the area of communications, and particularly spectrum, was fascinating and growing in importance. It was also an area in which I could combine my strong interest in technology with an interest in the law and public policy.
What were your earliest interests and ambitions?
When my dreams of my early childhood of being first a pizza man, then a fireman, and finally a basketball player, were dashed, I realised that I really wanted a career that would allow me to make a difference and have a positive impact. I think that is one of the reasons that the DSA position really attracted me.
What are your key aims in your current role?
We are trying to change how the world uses spectrum so that we move from spectrum scarcity to spectrum abundance. This is so important because giving more people access to spectrum will enable us to connect everyone, and bring the benefits of the digital society – including education, healthcare, government services, and broader economic participation – to the whole world. Easier access to spectrum will also enable the kind of innovation that can only come when a thousand different ideas bloom.
Do you feel that the DSA is making progress?
I do think that we are making progress, although it is never as fast as we would like! The concept of dynamic sharing is now part of the normal discussion on spectrum management policies and there is an understanding that dynamic sharing will drive more efficient and effective use of spectrum. We also see real progress in the TVWS area, with more governments recognising that enabling cost effective solutions needs to be at the heart of connecting the unconnected and that license exempt operations in the lower frequency bands can be an important part of the solution. We are also seeing a tremendous amount of excitement around the idea of three-tier sharing (incumbent, licensed, and license exempt/lightly licensed) in the same band. The Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) in the US is a great example of maximising the utilisation and value proposition of spectrum by us of dynamic sharing.
What has been your proudest moment since joining the DSA in 2016?
I think every year provides us with more accomplishments to be proud of. We recently completed our 6th Annual DSA Global Summit in London – the first time we have brought the conference to Europe. We had approximately 30 regulators from around the world in attendance along with over 170 attendees. It was our largest conference and showed the interest and excitement around dynamic sharing. The attendance was great but the discussion was even better. There is an excitement around the progress that is being made and a recognition that this is going to change some of the traditional approaches to spectrum management.
How do you switch off from your work?
When I am not working, I love to spend time with my family and to play tennis – I have really fallen in love with the sport lately. I also love to travel, which I do significantly as part of my job. This gives me a great chance to experience different cultures and people, which has taught me just how similar we all are in terms of how we live, how we enjoy, how we learn, and our hopes for the future.
What technological advancement are you most looking forward to having?
I think the biggest advancement that is coming is our ability to have connectivity everywhere. When we are able to move around with that basic expectation, I think everything changes. The least fortunate among us will be able to participate in the digital world and take advantage of the opportunities that many of us take for granted. This fact, through the power of networking, will improve the lives of all of us. To achieve all of this though, we need more access to spectrum and we need to use spectrum more efficiently. We also have to make it abundant so that the cost of access to spectrum drops. This is what excites me about dynamic sharing and about the DSA – we have a real opportunity to change the world.
Nominet works closely with the DSA, supporting their work with our own in TVWS and dynamic spectrum sharing.