RAND Report Evaluates Possible Economic Benefits of Using 5.9 GHz Band for WiFi
Nov 29, 2018
Wireless communications — particularly those enabled by WiFi — play an indispensable role in generating economic prosperity and opportunity, yet there are few empirically driven estimates on how WiFi contributes to the economy. This report helps fill this gap by estimating the potential economic value of opening the 5.9 GHz frequency band for WiFi use.
Insights for Future Spectrum Allocation Policy
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Wireless communications — particularly those enabled by WiFi — play an indispensable role in generating economic prosperity and opportunity, yet there are few empirically driven estimates on how WiFi contributes to the economy. This report helps fill this gap by estimating the potential economic value of the 5.9 GHz frequency band — this portion of spectrum was allocated by the Federal Communications Commission for short-range vehicle-to-vehicle communications in 1999, but, as of 2018, reconsidering this band for WiFi use has become a subject of discussion.
The authors detail two approaches for estimating the 5.9 GHz band's potential contribution to U.S. gross domestic product. They also estimate the band's contribution to consumer surplus and producer surplus, provide a sensitivity analysis for the estimates, and consider how current trends and potential future policies, such as privacy regulation, trade policy, and fifth-generation (5G) network deployment, could affect the estimates.
The goal of these estimates is to help inform the ongoing debate regarding the 5.9 GHz band. This debate is particularly important because decisions made regarding this the allocation of this frequency band could set a precedent for future unlicensed spectrum policymaking.
Policy Importance of Unlicensed Spectrum
Measuring the Economic Value of the 5.9 GHz Band
Trade-Off of DSRC-Allocated Spectrum
Contribution to GDP — Approach 1
Contribution to GDP — Approach 2
Consumer and Producer Surplus
Looking Forward: Implications of Current Trends and Potential Future Policies
Allocation Options and Trade-Offs for the 5.9 GHz Band
Utilizing Technology in WiFi and the Use of the Nyquist Theorem over the Shannon-Hartley Theorem
Design Specifications of Wireless Devices Used in Approach 2 for GDP Contribution
Alternative Approach to Measuring Potential Consumer Surplus
This research was funded by the Comcast Innovation Fund and conducted in the Community Health and Environmental Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.
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