Friday, January 29, 2010

Will Two New Spectrum Bills Identify More Spectrum for Americans?

Last week, the House Communications Subcommittee approved two bills that are critical steps in uncovering more of one of our most precious natural resources: radio spectrum. (A companion bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., is pending.) These bills are more than just good news for the wireless industry; they’re good news for all American consumers, and the country as a whole.

Many Americans may be blithely unaware that the nation is on the verge of a looming spectrum scarcity crisis, perhaps because unlike petroleum, natural gas—or even solar or wind—our radio air waves are a natural resource that you can’t see, smell or feel. As consumers, our first hand personal experience of the spectrum shortage may be limited to when we experience dropped mobile calls, or can’t get an Internet connection. We might blame our carrier for poor service but don’t understand that our airwaves are a finite resource that is experiencing explosive demand. Many don’t realize how much our nation depends on wireless for our critical infrastructure – for utilities delivering smart grid and other power solutions and public safety services providing urgent communications – as well as our national defense. We might not pause to reflect on how wireless technologies help keep America competitive in a global economy. Some of us don’t even realize we are consumers of spectrum; we love our Blackberry’s, iPhones and laptops – and now our netbooks, iPads and whatever is “next”. We’re happy consumers of technology that entertains us and helps us communicate in new and amazing ways.

The good news is that the FCC has been steadily working toward evolving and improving how our spectrum is managed and allocated in recent years, from approving a secondary market for spectrum, to creating a national broadband plan, to freeing up TV white spaces, the broadcast waves left dormant by the Digital TV transition. Last week’s spectrum legislation will help us dig deeper into how efficiently spectrum is being used and where pockets of idle spectrum exist.

More good news for consumers: While companies have been developing all of the cool new gadgets you want next, Spectrum Bridge has been quietly but swiftly developing new technologies for increasing spectrum availability and efficiency. The new gadgets consumers will enjoy in the future will be made possible through spectrum allocation software born in our labs. In fact, many of the wireless gadgets and services you use now are already supported by a host of Spectrum Bridge tools and technologies.

In 2008 we launched the world’s first online spectrum exchange, is helping thousands of organizations access spectrum on the secondary market for their wireless operations right now. We’re finding new life for old spectrum – by repurposing certain types of spectrum for new applications.

We’re helping companies find more spectrum through geo partitioning, disaggregation and other on-demand leasing strategies, and helping them maximize their spectrum assets and find new opportunities with SmartWaves, our innovative spectrum intelligence software, all right now.

We’ve been at the forefront in developing mixed spectrum solutions and in developing a groundbreaking TV white spaces database that is helping people all over the US locate available TV white spaces channels in their areas, right now. In October of 2009, under an experimental license, Spectrum Bridge launched the world’s first TV white spaces network, bringing high speed broadband Internet access to the citizens of Claudville, Virginia. Claudville is online right now. (We’ll be updating everyone with a bigger status report on the network and the tremendous impact it has had on the Claudville community in this blog next week.)

We applaud the House for approving these bills for a thorough inventory of the nation's communications spectrum. As FCC Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker recently said, we need to “leverage the spectrum that exists more efficiently” and “encourage new technologies and innovation.” These two bills will now move to the full House Energy and Commerce panel for consideration, where we hope they will receive equally quick action. American consumers, businesses, our critical infrastructures, and the future of our national best interests deserve nothing less.

Meanwhile, the team at Spectrum Bridge continues to support wireless spectrum needs now and for what’s next. With the spectrum bills in place and many of Spectrum Bridge's innovative spectrum efficiency tools and technologies already in progress, our ultimate vision for making more spectrum available for wireless applications, Universal Spectrum Access, will usher in a more prosperous wireless nation.

We’re working on it, right now.

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