Radio spectrum in space settlements

The radio spectrum is usually defined as the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between 3 Hz and 300 GHz. The ability to manipulate radio waves enables humans to communicate wireless at long distances. In this article we discuss the use of the radio spectrum within space habitats.

Due to their construction the interior of space habitats is shielded off from most external radio sources. Consequently the radio spectrum inside a space habitat is at the disposal of the inhabitants. This also means the need for regulation for the use of the radio spectrum.

First the transmitter output power has to be capped, in order to keep radiation pressure on the walls of the space habitats below safety limits. Because of the relatively small distances and the fact that straight line communication is always possible in space habitats, minimal output power will be required. Hence limiting transmitter output power shouldn’t be problematic.

A more important issue is the allocation of frequency bands, as a frequency bands can only in use by one user at one time. Further the number of bands is limited, and hence radio frequencies are scarce.

In line with our stance on land value tax, we believe that the radio spectrum should be considered as collective property. Private parties are then able to lease frequency bands, which would raise public revenue. Further public ownership of the radio spectrum allows the authorities to allocate certain frequency bands to specific purposes.

Radio waves are used for several modes of communication, of which radio and television broadcasts, mobile phones, wireless LAN, are probably the most important ones (at least from the perspective of space settlers). For each application specific frequencies are assigned. For technical reasons, we propose to follow traditional allocation schemes.

Certain applications of radio waves can be eliminated within space habitats. Examples are communication with submarines and radar. Additionally communication with satellites is only possible through the external antenna of the settlement, hence the frequencies used in satellite communication become available inside space habitats.

Because radio frequencies are a scarce good, efficient use is essential. Therefore analogue radio and television broadcasts should be prohibited, and be replaced with digital standards such as DAB+, Digital Radio Mondiale, and Digital Video Broadcasting. Not only does digital broadcasting offer better quality, but it also allows more stations within available frequency bands.

Due to multiplexing, multiple stations can be combined into one signal. Each multiplex is subsequently carried on its one frequency. We propose that at least one multiplex to be reserved for public broadcast services, while the others are available for commercial services. We will get to public broadcasting and the restrictions on commercial broadcasting in another article.

We propose to allocate the medium, high and very high frequencies for principal use for radio and television broadcast. Ultra high frequencies will be assigned to use by cell phones and certain short-range applications. Low frequencies will be primarily allocated to radio amateurs.

Consistent with our preference for cooperatives, we propose that only consumer cooperatives can apply for licenses for cell phone operators. This will prevent the acquisition of mobile phone companies by foreign investors with no concern for consumer interests.

Radio amateurs will be required to apply for an amateur radio license, which will only be given to certified radio amateurs. In order to obtain a AR certificate one will need to pass an exam on technical and legal expertise related to radio. The certificate will be valid for a life time, while the license is subject to periodic renewal. For short-range applications, such as family radio services, no license will be required, instead a small levy will be imposed on the purchase.

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