Gregory Taylor is a Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et Culture (FQRSC) postdoctoral fellow at Ryerson University in Toronto, and principal investigator on a four year SSHRC Insight grant to study spectrum auctions and issues related to radio spectrum management in Canada. In 2012 he launched Canadian Spectrum Policy Research (CSPR) at Ryerson (www.canadianspectrumpolicyresearch.org). Dr. Taylor’s book, “Shut off: the Canadian Digital Television Transition,” is published by McGill-Queens University Press. He received his Ph.D. from McGill University’s Department of Art History and Communication Studies in 2010.
Public Access to the Radio Waves: Unlicensed Spectrum and White Space Development in Canada.
In October, 2012, Industry Canada released the Framework for the Use of Certain Non-broadcasting Applications in the Television Broadcasting Bands Below 698 MHz. Despite its procedural title, this document represents Canada’s early steps toward a more open approach to radio spectrum access, a direction with great potential consequence for how citizens use and create mobile media. This paper will address the topic of “Regulating networks” presented in the call for papers, though it is the unregulated nature of this new approach to spectrum management that holds such promise. The development of unlicensed spectrum and television white space has the potential to cause a greater upheaval than the mass distribution of wi-fi more than ten years ago, with profound implications for the established power dynamics within networked societies. White space development has been called ‘the next wireless revolution.’
For Canada, the national digital divide is one of both geography and economic class each of which may be positively affected by the introduction of television white space devices and access to unlicensed spectrum. This paper will focus upon the Canadian potentials for unlicensed spectrum but will compare this experience to countries such as the United States (Federal Communications Commission) and the UK, which are further developed in their study of this open approach to spectrum regulation.