Spectrum—A New Natural Resource?

by PARESH R. VAIDYA

If spectrum availability becomes the crunch, ethical issues positing luxury against necessity will obviously arise. They will need to be debated, answered and a stand taken.

 The word ‘natural resource’ brings to our minds environmental elements like water, land, minerals and petroleum products. One may stretch it to clean air. But no one so far even thought that an intangible and abstract entity called spectrum could be a natural resource. And that too with an adjective ‘scarce’, like any other resource.

Since the last four or five years a realization has come about the spectrum being scarce and insufficient for our ever expanding needs and hence precious. How else do you explain the windfall income of ` 67000 crore accruing from the ‘sale’ of a small portion of the spectrum; the government itself did not expect more than half that amount! It should look indeed curious that the entity is not perishable, nor consumable and yet it becomes scarce.   

What is Spectrum?

Spectrum is a distribution of frequencies in a wave or a ray.  The most popular example of a spectrum is the rainbow. The visible light from the sunrays is comprised of seven colours from violet to red in the famous sequence VIBGYOR. The same spectrum can be seen if the light is passed through a prism. Every colour in the sequence has its own wavelength increasing from violet to red. Our eyes have the capability to distinguish different wavelengths like 0.00042 mm (for violet) and 0.00066 mm (of red), and hence we recognize all colours differently.

Excerpts from an article published in Science Reporter and available at http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/11161/1/SR%2048%283%29%2026-28.pdf

The above material may be freely reproduced with due acknowledgment to NISCAIR, CSIR. This entry was posted in Science News. Bookmark the permalink.

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