Dynamic Spectrum Auctions and Digital Marketplaces

Chances are that your cell-phone’s data connection is slow compared to most wired connection speeds. This is especially true in the United States. An emerging field, called Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio, is starting to make headway in changing the way we use the airwaves.

Two of the leading universities in the world on Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio research are Virginia Tech and Trinity College in Dublin. Digital Bazaar’s founder, Manu Sporny, was asked to join both research organizations along with researchers and officials from Supélec in Rennes, France, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the European Commission, and Vanu to take part in a workshop on the future of SDR/CR research.

Digital Bazaar’s part in all of this was to brainstorm business models and methods of auctioning wireless spectrum in real time. The workshop was hosted by the Centre for Telecommunications and Value-chain Research (CTVR) in Dublin, Ireland. It consisted of an intense 2-day workshop where ideas were exchanged as to the current state of SDR/CR research, what’s going right and what’s going wrong, as well as what the future should hold for this quickly maturing field.

Several ideas were generated at the workshop that dealt with using Digital Bazaar’s technology to buy and then re-sell wireless spectrum in real-time. Effectively, this means that you could buy and sell wireless spectrum from your cellphone or laptop on an as-needed basis.

Here’s how it would work: If you only need 100Kbps in bandwidth on average for sending/receiving e-mail then you can sign up for that wireless plan. If, however, you need 2000Kbps every now and then for the occasional large download to your laptop, you can purchase that wireless bandwidth a la carte from those around you. Not only would you buy the bandwidth, but you would lease the wireless spectrum from those around you as well – effectively increasing your overall download speed. One of the big things that was missing until now was a system that could handle the dynamic auctioning and billing issues. Luckily, Digital Bazaar has spent the last three years building such a system.

Using some of the same technology that Bitmunk employs, it is conceivable that a wireless router or laptop could buy and re-sell spectrum from another system without the need to have a plan setup with a wireless or mobile provider. This means that people could buy and sell bandwidth from each other when they need it and without having a permanent Internet service plan with any provider. Cheap, pay as you go wireless Internet.

We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with these leading research institutions in making this technological dream a reality.

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