Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent U.S. Government agency which is overseen by the Congress. It regulates international and interstate communications through satellite, wire, television, cable, and radio in 50 states of U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. It is the federal agency which is vested with the responsibility of enforcing and implementing the communications laws and regulations of America.
FCC plans to leverage blockchain to support the increasing demands of the Internet of Things (IoT) for managing and monitoring wireless spectrums. Juniper Research, forecasting and consulting agency for research markets, has predicted that about 50 million people will connect to IoT devices by the year 2022. As reported at the MIT Technology Review’s Business of Blockchain Conference, the Commissioner of FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel stated, “We have this registry from all of these licenses, but on a day-to-day basis we don’t know with great clarity what’s being used and what’s not being used. So if you put this on a public blockchain, you’d have this record of where demand is for what airwaves.”
She had also mentioned that a future world, with such a massive amount of IoT devices, would need a “real-time market” instead of the “clunky” licensing system which is in place today.
Right now, spectrums are auctioned off one at a time, and the process is very slow, expensive, and complex to manage, according to the Commissioner. An idea touted in recent years is to build a marketplace which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to issue permissions directly.
Rosenworcel mentioned that, if it is achieved, it will bring in new efficiencies and will transform from a system which is scarce to one that can manage relative abundance. She also said that FCC is currently investigating as to how blockchain technology will be able to aid that goal as a “thought experiment.”
She said that this technology would help countries which do not have an agency to manage the increasing demands on their wireless frequencies. Blockchain is one of the suitable options and traditional databases are also being tested to check if they can support this purpose.
The Commissioner noted, “The power of making those airways work for connectivity is something that can change economies, it can change agriculture, it can change healthcare.”
This update is coming at a time when FCC and other government agencies need a real-time, dynamic method to track Wi-Fi spectrums as IoT devices increase around the world. There will be a growing need for Wi-Fi spectrums as infrastructure becomes increasingly connected through IoT sensors. FCC is looking for a track-and-trace technology which is distributed, secure, open-source and this is why it has begun exploring blockchain ledgers.
Blockchains run business automation applications called smart contracts, which have the potential to offer a standardized method which will aid in accelerating data exchange between IoT devices. Using blockchain technology to track radio wave spectrums will give FCC an idea of how the spectrums are being used.