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The Breathtaking Complexity of the Wireless Spectrum

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united states frequency allocations

The Breathtaking Complexity of the Wireless Spectrum

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As it turns out, the hottest real estate market may be one we can’t see.

Everything from space exploration signals to HAM radios are vying for room on the radio spectrum, in which frequencies range from 3Hz to 3,000GHz. This spectrum acts as the “transportation system” for all wireless communication, and blocks of it are divvied up for specific uses.

The map above, from the U.S. Department of Commerce, vividly illustrates the complexity of this allocation system.

Plots of “Land” on the Frequency Band

Nearly all of the radio spectrum is already divided into a number of civilian and military uses. Some of the most prominent blocks (turquoise on the map) are set aside for television and radio broadcasting, as well as various types of navigation and satellite communications.

The spectrum also has a number of blocks dedicated to amateur radio and satellite.

amateur radio bands

It’s worth noting that the allocation map only lays out uses within a specific frequency, and that any number of licenses can exist within a frequency block. For categories like “fixed”, multiple licenses can exist in the same part of band provided they’re far enough apart to avoid signal interference.

Most countries claim ownership over their airwaves, so they each have their own versions of the frequency allocation map. Here are a few others: UK, Canada, and South Africa.

The Spectrum Crunch

It’s predicted that mobile data traffic will skyrocket in coming years as consumers’ appetite for high quality video streaming continues to grow. Rapid increase in mobile data usage isn’t confined to specific markets. It’s a truly global phenomenon.

mobile data consumption growth

Rising data consumption, coupled with the explosion in IoT devices and the emergence of the 5G standard, means that space within the radio band is increasingly coming at a premium.

In fact, periodic auctions for space on the spectrum see telecommunication companies shelling out billions of dollars for a piece of the pie. The spectrum auction run by the FCC in 2015 raised nearly $45 billion and 2017’s auction raised nearly $20 billion.

The hills are alive with data

The long awaited move to 5G is a hot topic in the telecommunications world, and for good reason. 5G is the next generation of wireless technology, which will deliver super-fast connections for smartphones and higher capacity for broadband networks. It’s estimated that 5G will be 100x faster than current 4G networks.

For a fascinating and detailed look at the 5G rollout, check out the video below.

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Chart of the Week

The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Which innovations will dominate headlines in 2019? According to Bill Gates, watch for these 10 breakthrough technologies to change the world.

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The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Gone are the days of turning stones into spears. With the advent of new technologies, we’ve learned to develop tools that not only make living faster and easier every day, but also improve the future of humanity as a whole.

Today’s Chart of the Week draws from the MIT Technology Review, which features Bill Gates’ predictions for the top 10 breakthrough inventions that will capture headlines in 2019.

Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies

1. Gut Probe in a Pill
These swallowable devices can detect and potentially prevent diseases that cause malnutrition and stunted growth in millions of children worldwide.

2. Custom Cancer Vaccines
Personalized cancer vaccines, targeting only the cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone, could help ensure faster recovery times and pose fewer risks to patients.

3. Meat-free Burgers
Plant-based and lab-grown food products will ideally alleviate the environmental impact of the livestock industry.

4. Smooth-talking AI assistants
The AI assistants of the future will have even more human-like conversations to personally engage customers. Companies would see measurable benefits, with just one breakthrough here garnering a 5% jump in productivity.

5. Sanitation without sewers
Improperly drained sewage causes death in one out of every nine children. Sanitation that doesn’t require sewers would not only prevent exposure diseases but also help turn waste into useful products like fertilizer.

6. ECG on your wrist
While most medical ECGS have up to 12 nodes to detect abnormalities, today’s wearables typically have only one. An ECG on the wrist would help reduce the risk of heart disease by monitoring changes and patterns in daily life.

7. Robot Dexterity
Advancements in robotics will enable the natural dexterity required to complete a greater range of tasks, such as helping an ailing loved one out of bed, doing the laundry, or building toys.

8. Predicting Preemies
Premature births are the leading cause of death for children under five years old. Tests to detect the possibility of a premature birth could be available in doctors’ offices in as little as five years.

9. Carbon Dioxide Catcher
Carbon dioxide catchers filter out CO₂ from the air and capture it for other uses. These include synthetic fuel creation, CO₂ for soft drinks, and plant growth in greenhouses.

10. New-wave Nuclear Power
Traditional nuclear reactors produce ~1,000 megawatts (MW), while these proposed mini-reactors would produce tens of megawatts ─ making them safer, more stable, and more financially viable for potential users.

A Vision for a Better Future

The biggest takeaway?

Seven of the 10 breakthrough technologies stem from the healthtech sector.

While several inventions on this list are years away from becoming a reality, they continue to embody the vision and passion that humans share to create and explore.

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Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry

In the digital age, the issue of trust is emerging as the game-changing factor in how consumers choose financial services brands.

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Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry

In the digital age, money is becoming less tangible.

Not only is carrying physical cash more of a rarity, but we are now able to even make contactless payments for many of the products and services we use on the fly.

Our financial transactions are starting to be analyzed and optimized by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, investments and bills are paid online, and even checks can now be deposited through our phones. Who has the time to visit a physical bank these days, anyways?

Trust in the Digital Age

The migration of financial services to the cloud is increasing access to banking solutions, while breaking down barriers of entry to the industry. It’s also creating opportunities for new service offerings that can leverage technology, data, and scale.

However, as today’s infographic from Raconteur shows, this digital migration has a crucial side effect: trust in financial services has emerged as a dominant driver of consumer activity.

This likely boils down to a couple major factors:

  • Tangibility
    Financial services are becoming less grounded in physical experiences (using cash, visiting a branch, personal relationships, etc.)
  • Personal Data
    Consumers are rightfully concerned about how personal data gets treated in the digital age

Further, the above factors are compounded by memories of the 2008 Financial Crisis. These events not only damaged institutional reputations, but they elevated trust to become a key concern and selling point for consumers.

Trust, by the Numbers

In general, trust in banks has been slowly on the rise since hitting a low point in 2011 and 2012.

At the same time, consumers are consistently ranking trust as a more important factor in their decision of where to bank. To the modern consumer, trust even outweighs price.

Top Five Factors for Choosing a Bank:

  1. Ease and convenience of service (47%)
  2. Trust with the brand (45%)
  3. Price/rate (43%)
  4. Service resolution quality and timeliness (43%)
  5. Wide network coverage of ATMs (40%)

It’s important to recognize here that all five of the above factors rank quite closely in percentage terms. That said, while they are all crucial elements to a service offering, trust may be the most abstract one to try and tackle for companies in the space.

With this in mind, how can financial services leverage tech to increase the amount of trust that consumers have in them?

Tech Factors That Would Increase Consumer Trust:

  1. Reliable fraud protection (36%)
  2. Technology solves my problems (13%)
  3. Useful mobile application (9%)

Better fraud protection capability stands out as one major trust-builder, while designing technology that is useful and effective is another key area to consider.

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