Revisiting the Past and Thinking Forward

December 27, 2016  • Communications and Society Program

As 2016 comes to a close, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program invites you to join us as we celebrate and reflect over an exciting year marked by thoughtful, constructive discussions on a range of issues. The following “2016 Year In Review” series offers highlights from the various programs as well as insight into 2017 programming. For more information, please  visit our homepage and or follow us on Twitter or Facebook

The authors of the 2010 National Broadband Plan called for spectrum policy to be a “key pillar of U.S. economic policy.” They reasoned, “Mobile broadband represents the convergence of the last two great disruptive technologies – Internet computing and mobile communications – and may be more transformative than either of these previous breakthroughs.” Fast-forward seven years later and these predictions are not an overstatement. According to Cisco, mobile data traffic has grown 4,000-fold over the past 10 years and almost 400-million-fold over the past 15 years. 

This tremendous growth presents both opportunities and challenges. And, with the arrival of a new Administration, the need to revisit the state of spectrum policy is critical in order to keep stride with technological advancements and public needs. As such, the C&S program convened the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Spectrum Policy, a group of twenty-five experts, policymakers and industry leaders.  The group outlined new policy recommendations that can address the expected spectrum needs of the coming decade, and have in place methods for going beyond those expectations if necessary. Topics included cybersecurity, the Internet of things, possibility of spectrum sharing and the future of 5G.  

While we await priorities from the new Administration, it is clear that in today’s highly-connected world, spectrum is a critical piece of infrastructure.Recommendations and a report from the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Spectrum Policy (AIRS) will be available in early 2017. Please check back to learn how to receive your copy or visit  Please follow further discussions at