She chose her research area because it was unknown for her, and has spent the past years focusing on the policy and regulatory aspects of radio spectrum. Now Maria Massaro, PhD student at Chalmers Department of Technology Management and Economics, Division of Science, Technology and Society, has published her Licentiate Thesis: Radio Spectrum Regulation in the European Union - A three-level context.
You examine the role the EU plays in radio spectrum regulation at international, regional and national level. Why is this so interesting - and important to shed light on?
"When I heard about this area for the first time I could not really capture the importance of this “radio spectrum” for mobile operators, and why it was regulated. Therefore, I decided to dig deeper into the topic on radio spectrum regulation during my PhD".
"Mobile internet has become the backbone of our society. If radio spectrum was not regulated, it would not be possible to use mobile internet. The importance of regulating the radio spectrum has been increasingly acknowledged, in conjunction with the widespread use of mobile internet devices such as smartphones and tablets, but also machine-to-machine communications - The Internet of Things".
Is there a lack of knowledge in this area today?
"Technical issues of radio spectrum use have constantly been addressed by engineering researchers, but the regulatory framework for radio spectrum has remained mostly unobserved. Only recently, radio spectrum regulation has revealed its potential as an interesting and challenging research area. In particular, the widespread use of mobile data has uncovered the need to revise existing regulation. It is common knowledge that mobile internet has become an essential component of our lives. Well, mobile internet is one among several public and commercial services reliant upon radio spectrum. In this context, the novelty of my research work stands on focusing on regulatory issues of radio spectrum - which have passed unnoticed so far - in a unique institutional setting, that of the European Union".
How would you describe your main conclusions?
"Radio spectrum is considered a national resource, and national authorities define the rules for the use of the radio spectrum in their national territories. Nevertheless, when it comes to EU member states, the responsibility of regulating the radio spectrum is, to some extent, shared between national and EU authorities. My licentiate thesis illustrates the role the EU plays in radio spectrum regulation, looking at international, regional and national rules. It shows how the EU does exert its influence on radio spectrum regulation at all levels, although regulating the radio spectrum is a national responsibility".
What do you hope your research will lead to?
"Firstly, I hope my research work will encourage more systematic research on radio spectrum regulation, in particular with respect to the potential positive or negative consequences of allocating responsibilities between national and EU authorities. Secondly, I hope that policy makers and regulators will recognize the crucial contribution that research can have for designing successful regulatory interventions".
How do you want to proceed with your research?
"My plan for the next phase is to examine into more depth the distribution of responsibilities between national and EU authorities. A fundamental EU public policy priority is to create the so-called EU single market, which would require to transfer more power to EU authorities. Pursuing such policy objective requires to overcome the opposition of EU member states, which tend to safeguard their national prerogatives in many policy areas. My aim is to understand more about this power game in radio spectrum regulation and assess potential benefits and drawbacks of centralising or decentralizing responsibilities between EU and national authorities".
Text: Ulrika Ernström
FACTS, RESEARCH AND MORE INFORMATION
ABOUT THE RADIO SPECTRUM:
The radio spectrum
is a range of electromagnetic frequencies, also called radio waves, widely used in modern technology - particularly for mobile telecommunications. To prevent interference between different uses, the provision of radio-based services is regulated on different levels: nationally, regionally and internationally.