Spectrum Liberalisation




Information & Communications Technology Development


Informal submission to Ofcom Public Consultation




Mr. Henry O’Tani


September 2004





Henry O'Tani, 8a The Avenue, Keynsham, BS31 2BU.

Phone: +44 (0) 117 986 5422  Mobile: +44 (0) 781 277 8609
email: henry-otani@beeb.net   home page: http://altec.members.beeb.net






1.0       Introduction:


2.0       Technical Progress:


4.0       Continual Invention & Innovation:  a key to economic prosperity


5.0          Role of Government:


6.0       Supporting Invention & Innovation through Regulation:


7.0       The “Special Case” of the British innovatory framework:


8.0       Summary:


9.0       Recommendations:

In the interests of “grass roots” scientific and technical advancement: 


10.0      Recommendations:

In the interests of modern community development and social advancement: -



Spectrum Liberalisation &

Information & Communications Technology Development



1.0     Introduction:


1.1.           The author’s special interests are as some 20 years an independent Design Engineer and U.K. Government listed Small Business innovations consultant. Inventor and PatenteeLicenced Radio Amateur.  Early Computer and Microwave and Radio Engineer. Sometime member of the Community Radio Association, PERA and Design Council of Great Britain. originator and world-wide promoter of  “Community Wireless Internet” www.wlan.org.uk .


1.2              I wish to address the issue of SPECTRUM LIBERALISATION from a national long-term strategic interest which is outside the scope of the commercial perspective.


1.3.     Disclaimer: These are my personal views and not those of any associated client, organisation, firm or body.



2.0      Technical Progress:


2.1.           The creative energy, zeal and wide economic benefits of Enterprise Culture are indispensable and hopefully undisputed features of a successful modern economy.  


2.2.           However, when the good doctrine of “liberalisation” be miscarried as complete “non-regulation” (of spectrum) it may advance private enterprise at an unacceptable cost to society as a whole……So no public discussion about Public Communications and Spectrum Liberalisation should exclude mentioning the uniquely degenerative and major anti-social contributions which unfettered commercial ethics bring to “communal intelligence” and “social homeostasis”.


2.3      Many similar important areas of modern life are now recognised as

           protected areas too vunerable to be left to market forces alone.

Few citizens today want to see education, all broadcast media,

healthcare, pharmaceuticals, policing, religion, military operations, public services or government itself  run entirely as short-term profit maximising “public utilities”, yet by auctioning spectrum to anti-competitive vertical markets, monopolies and cartels this is exactly what has been previously allowed in our public one-to-one telecommunications infrastructures.


2.4      “Liberal regulation” seeks to justly balance the needs of the individual   

          (citizen and corporate) entrepreneur with that of the wider community.


2.5      Yet Government of any complexion, both classical or modern should  

protect Information and Communications (and innovations and “invention” in these areas) as “a special case” and rightly see these as vectors of government itself…   that (with immensely disproportionate repercussions) are too important to the intellectual and physical health of the nation and “communal intelligence” of society  “to leave to market forces alone”.


2.6      “Information Technology infrastructure” which is increasingly the principle medium of common interpersonal “dialogue, advice and conversation” is seen by this author as a crucial effector of life long learning, social polity and a pervasive mechanism of self-regulating homeostasis (lawful self-government) for which the existence of commercial tolls and tariffs is increasingly unnecessary, anti-social, undesirable, harmful and technically indefensible ….


2.7       In a troubled and unsafe world, raising of “communal intelligence”,

grass-roots civil dialogue, civic consciousness and industrious co-operation is not a luxury but a dire necessity…… which ought not be bundled and traded away with Wireless Spectrum.


2.8      Whereas to non-specialists “Information and Communications Delivery” may seem like any other “public utility”, this author (a practising cyberneticist of 40 years) believes that protection from what amounts to “unnecessary opportunistic commercial metering and taxation of public and informal dialogue and conversation” is strategically more important than any other aspect of government…..


2.9      Parameters such as “communal intelligence” and “social homeostasis” are cybernetic effectors  (which as generally non-understood factors in government understanding) are at the position “Public Hygiene” and “Public Education” were 175 years ago…..



3.0      As Norbert Wiener  (Father of Cybernetics)  wrote in 1948:-


3.1     Properly speaking, the community extends only so far as there extends an effectual transmission of information.


3.2     one of the most surprising facts about the body politic is its extreme lack of efficient homeostatic processes.


3.3             There is a belief, current in many countries, which has been elevated to the rank of an official article of faith in the United States, that free competition is itself a homeostatic process: that in a free market the individual selfishness of the bargainers, each seeking to sell as high and buy as low as possible, will result in the end in a stable dynamics of prices, and with redound to the greatest common good.


3.4             This is associated with the very comforting view that the individual entrepreneur, in seeking to forward his own interest, is in some manner a public benefactor and has thus earned the great rewards with which society has showered him. Unfortunately, the evidence, such as it is, is against this simple-minded theory.

3.5             Of all anti-homeostatic factors in society, the control by business of the means of communication is the most effective and most important.


3.6             One of the lessons of the present book is that: "Any social structure is held together by the possession of means for the acquisition, use, retention and transmission of information". In a society too large for the direct contact of its members, these means are the press, radio, telephone, posts, the theatre, television, the movies, school and church....  (Broadcast Media, Cellphones, Internet)


3.7             In a society like ours, avowedly based on buying and selling, in which all natural and human resources are regarded as the absolute property of the first businessman enterprising enough to exploit them, these secondary aspects of the means of communication tend to encroach further and further on the primary ones. This is aided by the very elaboration and the consequence expense of the means themselves....


3.8             .....A triple constriction of the means of communication: the elimination of the less profitable means in favour of the more profitable; the fact that these means are in the hands of the very limited class of wealthy men and thus naturally express the opinions of that class;  and the further fact that, as one of the chief avenues to political and personal power, they attract above all those ambitious for such power.


3.9             That system which more than all others should contribute to social homeostasis is thrown directly into the hands of those most concerned in the game of power and money, which as we have already seen to be one of the chief anti-homeostatic elements in the community.


3.10        It is no wonder then that the larger communities, subject to this disruptive influence, contain far less communally available information than the smaller communities.....


3.11        There is a group who see nothing good in the anarchy of modern society, and in whom an optimistic feeling that there must be some way out has led to an over evaluation of the possible homeostatic elements in the community. Much as we may sympathize with these individuals and appreciate the emotional dilemma in which they find themselves, we cannot attribute too much value to this type of wishful thinking...... It is the mode of thought of the mice when faced with the problem of belling the cat.


3.12        Undoubtedly it would be very pleasant for us mice if the predatory cats of the world were to be belled, but - who is going to do it? Who is to assure us that ruthless power will not find its way back into the hands of those most avid for it?

Extracts from Norbert Wiener's*  "Cybernetics" ( MIT 1948 )

The inventor of the term "Cybernetics".


Full text at:   http://www.wlan.org.uk/wiener2.htm


4.         Continual Invention & Innovation:  a key to economic prosperity


4.1             There can be no “net” economic progress and raising of  “total” living standards (almost by definition) without some scientific and technical innovation.


4.2             Without productive increases in the actual substances of net wealth, competitiveness and efficiency in business and commerce becomes a vicious “zero sum game” … where no wealth is created but that which exists merely exchanges hands between competitors…. A “rat race” of the where “profit” and “local optimisation” is only possible at the weakest’s loss……


4.3             Cultivation (growth) of the means of good quality Information and Communications, a liberal culture of unfettered public/private discussion, interpersonal dialogue and conversation is the most rapid and cost-efficient tool civilised government has for economic and cultural prosperity both at home and abroad…


4.4      See United Nation’s Kofi Annan’s  (Community WLAN inspired)  “Challenge to Silicon Valley”     http://www.unicttaskforce.org/sg_challenge.html



5.0       Role of Government:


5.0      Government which understands the need to “Liberalise” is an order  

           more sophisticated than early 20thCentury Directive Government.


5.1       Liberalisation embraces the late 20thCentury evolution in “control   

           theory” from primitive “classical mechanics” to embrace the newer modes of “automation & self-regulation”  within a broad spectrum of cultivated diversification …


5.2      It is a progression from Command and Control based on classical   

Biblical, Newtonian (& Fordist) linear and mechanistically bureaucratic determinism, to control models based on more practical understanding of the dynamics of Active Whole Systems, Ecology, Cybernetics and Biology


5.4      But incorruptibility (high fidelity) of “management communications and intelligence” protected against the “propaganda, distortion and noise of commercial agendas” is vital in government (as it is in finance, law and science).


5.5      At the grass-roots (local self-regulating autonomous subsystems) Information and Communications (and the means thereto). Are synonymous with government.  e.g. The institutional roles of the village shop and post office, saloon bar, public phone box, bus shelter and village hall…..


5.6      For civilised and progressively advanced democratic institutions, Discussion, Dialogue, Conversation, Information and Communications are unquestionably  “The indispensable means of government itself”…


5.7      Liberalisation of government in practice needs MORE expertise, statecraft,  “regulation” and sensitive “structural maintenance”…


e.g.  A driverless train is not “achieved“ by simply removing the driver..



6.0      Supporting Invention & Innovation through Regulation:


6.1      There are many inexpensive ways which government regulators can

           create a liberal but regulated environment which is still supportive of iconoclastic exponential economic growth through genuine (grass roots) experimental scientific business and technical innovation…


6.2      Yet reckless disregard of key seminal factors and lack of attention to small details can have equally catastrophic consequences…

           Not least as exemplified in the sad role of The Radio Agency 

           and its predecessors:-


6.2.1  Transmitter operators were once limited in power to “DC Input    

            Power” … 

The Radio Agency regulators (in their wisdom) elected to licence according to “EIRP” ….but this tacitly removed the previously powerful incentive to continually strive for greater efficiency…  (and for example  developments in low cost antenna which could reduce the  

           electrical power consumption or by range extension the actual

           number of required base stations by 80% or more!)


6.2.3   A similar regulatory paradigm with motor vehicles:-  The Old

           Way of simply measuring by “cubic capacity” tacitly encouraged innovation in engine design and efficiency whereas the modern trend to

           rate according to “KW output power” rather than say peak fuel consumption or noxious emissions gives no regulatory incentive for the design and manufacture of better and cleaner engines…


6.2.4       Relevant is that in both cases these products of “commercial regulatory manipulation”  (bearing no particular scientific or engineering merit) limit the ability to meet compliance and therefore limit low cost participation from what had been simple low cost measurements costing a few pounds which any technician might perform, to “test rigs” requiring many hundreds of thousands of pounds …  and thereby the exclusive property of large institutions and big business.


6.3      The creativity which launches new industries starts not in large and profit centred facilities and institutions but at “the grass roots” of pre-enterprise…. In sitting rooms, in free academia, in sheds and private workshops… in enthusiastic people’s free time.  Always outside the narrow short-termism of  “the commercial loop”.  


6.4                   It is typical of large institutional behaviour that in recent history “Internet” (packet switching)  was offered to AT&T and declined…   IBM declined the opportunity to become “Microsoft”…  Fairchild let go “Intel” …. Most existing British two-way radio manufacturers failed to meet the challenges of cellular radio…


6.5      I personally claim that the U.K. cordless-phone (and cellular phone) industry could have taken off in the late 1950’s were it not for the monopolistic stifling of BT (nee GPO) on informal connections to the PSTN and Cold War fear of non-government radio transmitters….


6.6             The strictest prohibition of “commercial and business use” on all Radio Amateur bands by licencees has been reasonably successful for over 80 years….  In which, almost every modern technical innovation embodied in modern cellphones and digital packet radio originate from the “amateur radio stable”…


6.7             Amateur radio has seen significant parts of the Amateur spectrum colonised by commercial operators…. Recently at 10GHz, parts of the 430MHz amateur band has been conceded to car entry key fobs etc…  and now the ISM bands….


6.8             Radio designers have had to endure a situation where experimentation on new local product concepts and services in communications are illegal … Yet as soon as products appear in the Far East and can be imported and sold, the regulatory regime is opened to let these through…


           e.g.  even Infra-red controls were illegal under the 1949 Wireless 

           Telegraphy Act..


6.9             While concessions HAVE been made (IR remote controls, LPR, PMR, Cordless Phones, Bluetooth, WLAN) these have been but forced responses to new technology products first developed in other countries appearing in British Shops….


6.10    Apart from consultative exercises like this, the present regulatory system is tends to be  “steered” and “serve” the interests of importers, dealers and monopolists, rather than very small indigenous technical innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs….



7.0      The “Special Case” of the British innovatory framework:


7.1             H.M. Government should be mindful of WHY it is that the U.K. produced disproportionately more Nobel prizes, patents and scientific papers than any another country.


7.2             Liberty” is an essentially English cultural invention and concept, believed by many to be the fountainhead of the extraordinary British intellectual and scientific achievement for over 400 years.


7.3      This long standing “special innovatory framework” has had profound repercussions and is the basis of a kaleidoscope of unique British historical contributions in so many diverse fields of social and technical development… 


7.4      cite:  British Inventions (ad lib - in no particular order) as:- The Agrarian Revolution, Gardening Centres, Vocational Learning, The Notion of Hobbies, Palaeontology, Geology, Anatomy, Inoculation, Anaesthesia, Modern Olympic Games, Modern World Athletics, Notions of Fair Play, Gaming & Investment Banking, Golf, Tennis & Football, Friendly Societies, Coffee Shops & Insurance, Stock Exchange, Free Trade, Operational Research, First Scientific Institutions, First Humane and Welfare Societies, RSPCA, The Samaritans, Life Boat Institution, Modern Light Houses, Building Societies, LETS, Credit Unions, The Modern World Postal System, Railways, Canals, The Omnibus, Macadam Roads, Iron and Steel Bridges, Suspension Bridges, Plate Glass, Underwater Tunnels, Municipal Gas, Street Lighting, First Photography, First Electric Telegraphy, First Wireless DX Telegraphy,  Electronics, Television Broadcasting, Radar, Electronic Computing, Mass Production, First Factories, Automation, Precision Mechanical Engineering, Steam Power, Electrical Engineering, Steam Turbines, Gas Turbines, Jet Aircraft, Bicycles, Hooke’s Law, Differential Calculus, Logarithms, Anti-slavery Legislation, Civil Rights, Child Protection, Longitude Chronometers, Optical Astronomy, Radio Astronomy, Computers, Programming, Symbolic Logic, World Wide Web, DNA, Nuclear Physics, Fabian Socialism, First Income Tax, The Co-operative Movement, Limited Companies, Economic Colonialism, Steam Boats, Paddle Steamers, Screw Driven Ship, Submarines, Ocean Liners, Jet and Supersonic Air Transport, Hovercraft, Modern Public Protest Meetings,  CND, Womens’ Suffrage, OXFAM,  Public Newspapers, “Public” Schools,  Civil Police Force, Voluntary Organisations, Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Government itself!


7.5             The absence of “a written” but “evolutionary constitution” and pursuit of  “amateurism” in all aspects of everyday life embody important and fundamental wealth creating libertarian and social values.


7.6             Liberal “presumption of innocence” instils a powerful social conditioning from an early age from which standpoint “one is free to do anything which is not expressly prohibited  whereas the traditional “Old European Romanesque” system maintains a tacit “presumption of guilt” in which  “one is free within the constraints of inevitably complex rule systems, to do ONLY that which is expressly permitted…. This appears to create a pervasive stifling directive regulatory and legislative credo which severely inhibits, suppresses and outlaws the private expression of imaginative creativity and fundamental change.


7.7             The grass roots” of great strategic experimental innovation and scientific advancement need generous liberal space outside the narrow conceptual locus, linear thought, didactic rule systems and (homeostasis free) directive policy control mind-set.


7.8             Eccentricity and radical non-conformity are prime Old English libertarian virtues. The friendly foreign injunction “You can’t do that it is not permitted !” illicits the instinctive English Whig response  “then if you personally don’t mind and its not actually verboten then I shall proceed…..”


7.9             To privately experiment and innovate, to independently create, to explore, experiment learn and play and be different are essential to maintaining this unique “British innovation culture” …


7.10         The role of the private, voluntary, educational and pre-market non-commercial social sector is primal to “grass roots” invention and innovation… yet as “fragile infants” these have little or no voice against the loud and articulate lobbying of commercial operators.


7.11         Without mindful recognition of these factors, crude government de-regulation which puts ICT wireless spectrum, management policy and the future of the internet into the hands of competitive business monopolies – (to which it owes nothing) can permanently smother British experimental innovation and inventiveness for all time.



8. Summary:


8.1             If technical invention and the the lately recognised profound social benefits of Information and Communications Technology  (whose future is inseparable from wireless spectrum) are to be shared with and raise the consciousness of those sectors of the community most able to benefit, it (spectrum) must be generally available as an informal free public resource (like parks, library books, cycleways, street lighting, footpaths, sport, justice, security, education and healthcare) “free at the point of delivery”


8.2      Real iconoclastic technical and social progress is incompatible with “the control by business of the means of communications”.   (phones, internet, newpapers, broadcasting,  advertising, fashion & propaganda)


8.3      To allow communications companies commercial monopolistic licence

           to continue to build “milk cows”,  “meter” and erect blanket  “tolls” and

“billing systems” for such vital ingredients of life as informal dialogue and conversation is to tax, undermine and restrict natural homeostasis and our unique moral and intellectual fabric …..

(….like putting lead in school drinks)


8.4       Wireless Spectrum is essentially a technology of mobile, “flexible”, temporary “casual” and adhoc communications.


8.5      The inherent “openness” of wireless means that notwithstanding  

           encryption, it is an insecure (and so easily maliciously disrupted) medium inherently unsuitable for the most secure private finance, government and business communications.


8.6      Big business can afford the technologically mature higher millimetric

           microwave frequencies, satellite and unjammable cable fibre infrastructure which can offer endless replication of secure bandwidth….


8.7      Whereas Business requires privacy, Wireless Communications and Media and its means of delivery are essentially open and public.


8.8      For the economically disadvantaged, wireless and older systems of communications are the cheapest transmission media.  Information, personal communications, knowledge acquisition and the mechanisms of informal (life-long) learning through free discussion, and conversation are one of the most valuable assets (yet cheapest to provide) that each “growing” and “evolving” citizen needs after completing school and formal education….


8.9      Mobile and fixed broadband wireless infrastructure can now be

delivered like municipal street lighting, cheaper and with no more difficulty and cost …. Unlike any other positive social effector, ICT can (due to Moore’s Law) over the next 10 years now be actually delivered for all, at a tiny cost or for free….


8.10    This potential primary source of growing Healthy Communities, Social Life, Neighbourhood, Family, Religion, Educational, Medicare, Welfare and Political life….   Open and eclectic neigbourhood public homeostatic infrastructure rightly belongs to the poor….  To the poorly educated, the infirm and disabled, young people, schools, churches, community, recreational and voluntary groups whom if nothing else, simply cannot afford any other kind of more sophisticated leading-edge media readily available to business and commerce.


8.11    I believe that (some) Public ICT Spectrum should be reserved for EXCLUSIVE non-business, interpersonal and “social homeostatic” use….


9.0 Recommendations:


In the interests of “grass roots” scientific and technical advancement: 


9.1              In the USA its local regulator the FCC, once permitted radio emissions of under 100mW on any frequency as “Licence Exempt” .Providing they did not cause a nuisance ….


Setting such a reasonable regulatory “lower limit”, or property curtialage definition on wireless emission (albeit conceding a much lower power level for this “small island people” at 50mW or 10mW)

with some modest technical qualification, could advance the experimentation potential of the “grass roots” ICT technical innovation community overnight…


Most electrical apparatus and computing equipment especially under development   (in infancy) emits EMR to a greater or lesser extent, which from the 1987 Telecommunications Act became a criminal rather than civil offence. 


Without a lower limit of exemption from regulation, any radio frequency engineer who now makes practical use of a standard signal generator is thus discouraged and too easily “criminalised” under existing regulations.


9.2      Emissions power for ALL governed regulated services should be rated 

           not in “EIRP” but in “DC Input” …which costs us £5 to measure instead 

           of £200,000 or more (encouraging grass roots technical innovation and

           improvements to efficiency).


9.3      Spectrum licencing should be in “simple engineering bandwidth  

           definitions” which do not pre-empt and restrict the usage to KNOWN 

types of modulation or information content. (Giving liberty to do what is not explicitly outlawed…allowing the freedom, opportunity and commercial incentive for grass roots experiment and local enterprise).


9.4      Non-profit, licence free usage could be given additional internationally

           agreed frequency allocations.


9.5      A new not-for-profit experimental “Community Internet Band” of several 

hundred MHz  could be re-allocated at 10GHz…. Where it is known low cost broadband satellite technology is potentially adaptable for terrestrial use by enthusiasts and new entrepreneurs….


9.6      Later several GHz between 20 – 25 GHz. (or the ISM Band there) could be encouraged for future 1Gbps not-for-profit community internet.


9.7      In the early days of wireless, 85 years ago  “amateurs” were given the entire frequency spectrum above 3MHz ….and “famously discovered” Short Wave Ionospheric Propagation.


9.8      Similar regulation-free allocations could be made above say 60GHz…


9.9      Citizen’s Bands. Amateur Radio Bands and relatively tiny LICENCE  EXEMPT Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) bands should be protected from ALL intensive commercial operations…


9.10    Firms which are primarily Sellers, “Dealers”, Importers and Profiteering foreign labour outsourcers should be disqualified from contributing to the regulatory climate of European Manufacturing Industry.



10.0    Recommendations:


In the interests of modern community development and social advancement: -


10.1    As with “EMR”  The definition of “broadcasting” could set a lower threshold beneath which, a “service” is regarded as “exempt” from any need for regulation…  e.g.  “broadcasting” available or  targeted at communities of less than say 250,000 people  (or 25,000 or 2500 or 250 etc.) in any one country (or region).


(…..To promote new media concepts… in exactly the same way a defined low level of “regulation exempt spectrum” RF power on any band can encourage the birth of new technology)


10.2         The higher channels of Band II FM broadcasting (already for many years, set aside for “community broadcasting” under International Treaty) could be “nationally deregulated” for non-commercial use.


10.3         A Public Service Broadcasting remit could be added to existing regulation of Amateur Radio licencing.


10.4         The “Radio Engineering Licence” component of the Amateur Licence should be separated from the “Operator Licence”.


10.5         Public Libraries, Schools and Universities, Churches, Community Centres (and Political Parties?) should be license-exempt to broadcast non-commercial  amateur Community Phones, Internet, Radio & TV.  (under similar engineering terms as the Amateur Licence)


10.6         A couple of new local community TV channels could be designated amongst the existing U.K. UHF Band IV & V  Television channels 23 – 69. 


10.7         The routine control of the “broadcasting medium” in “small local media services”  could be through common-sense modernisation of local authority statutory mechanisms such as “weights and measures”.


10.8         The routine regulatory control of “broadcasting content” in “small local media services” could be left to existing  Common Law (“nuisance”, “libel”, “duty of care”, “obscenity”, “offensive words and behaviour”) ……and existing Statutes (for copyright, performing rights, race relations, impiety) and Local Democracy.


10.9         Recent concessions to powerful business lobbying (in 2002) on 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz ISM Bands, to operate profit-making revenue services have eroded the  primacy and exclusivity of “community not-for-profit services” for “4G” …. These are profound mistakes and the former Internationally agreed licence exempt, non-commercial status of all ISM Bands should be locally re-established.



Henry O'Tani

Phone: +44 (0) 117 986 5422

Mobile: +44 (0) 781 277 8609


email: henry-otani@beeb.net

home page: http://altec.members.beeb.net


Keynsham: 18 Sept 2004