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