Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spectrum Scarcity: Can Technology Bridge the Gap?

The release of the National Broadband Plan last month has sparked many debates, many of which pertain to the need for more spectrum and how the FCC should go about obtaining additional spectrum to keep up with rising demands. One of the ways in which the FCC has proposed to free up bandwidth is through a "Mobile Future Auction". This proposal would reallocate TV broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband use through a voluntary auction by broadcast companies, giving them the opportunity to monetize their excess spectrum capacity. However, this proposal has generated backlash from broadcasters, and in a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention this week, FCC Chairman Genachowski reassured broadcasters and highlighted on the fact that the FCC does not need "all, most, or even very many licensees to participate" in order to meet the demands for more spectrum. However, in an interview last week, Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon, said that he believes advances in technology will be able to offset a spectrum shortage. The question then is, do we need broadcasters to give up spectrum, or can technology bridge the gap to supply more spectrum?
Today, anywhere between 80 and 90% of spectrum goes underutilized, a surprising number considering the capacity demands of mobile networks. The need for mobile broadband has increased exponentially over the past few years, as mobile internet begins to exceed desktop internet usage. As we've discussed in previous blogs, spectrum is an extremely finite resource, and increasing demands for spectrum through the use of new applications has put many carriers under pressure to quickly build out their networks to keep up with demand. With the huge influx of smartphones to the mobile marketplace, carriers are struggling to keep up with networks that were underbuilt and overutilized from the start.

At Spectrum Bridge, we believe that technology can help alleviate, and even solve the problem of spectrum scarcity without resorting to having to find a lot more spectrum. Although the reallocation of TV wireless spectrum would certainly help to supply additional bandwidth to wireless networks, it is not necessarily the only solution to the spectrum crisis. Through the use of alternative solutions, such as secondary markets to improve existing spectrum efficiency and innovative technology such as TV white spaces, we believe that it is possible to cost-efficiently address the spectrum scarcity issue without affecting current TV broadcast services. Secondary markets and TV white spaces networks can help to ensure that wireless operators can meet the growing demand for wireless broadband services through the utilization of a hybrid solution of both technology and existing spectrum.

- Joe Hamilla, COO


Anonymous said...

Can you please explain to me why they even get a choice? Is the spectrum theirs? Do they own it? Did they pay for it when it was GIVEN to them many years ago? It's obviously a conspiracy as to why they dont want to give up "THEIR" spectrum, because they know that their television PROGRAMMING is purposely dumbing people down and the news is full of lies and distortions and as soon as the White Spaces and White Spaces Devices go mainstream people will be spending more time on the internet which will slowly make them smarter. Is it just me? Thise seems so obvious to me.

Robert Rini said...

Almost all broadcasters have paid for their spectrum through either the secondary market or in auctions. In any event why does it even matter? Broadcasters serve their communities with free over-the-air important local news, emergency information, public affairs and entertainment programming. They are using their spectrum efficiently to serve the public and provide new streams of multicast programming as well as innovative new mobile broadband services. So basically there are some who argue the government should put a hold on broadcasters existing plans to launch mobile broadband services so incumbent wireless carriers can in the future, launch mobile broadband services over the same spectrum. This makes no sense.

jack paul said...
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