Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spectrum, Spectrum, Spectrum

Last week, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking to repurpose a portion of the UHF and VHF bands that are currently being used by broadcast services. The long term goal is to make this spectrum available for fixed and mobile wireless communication services, including mobile broadband. The move to repurpose broadcast spectrum through voluntary incentive auctions coincides with the goals set forth in the National Broadband Plan to make more spectrum available for mobile broadband.

CTIA President, Steve Largent reiterated the need for more spectrum in a recent interview, “It really is the lifeblood of the industry…It really is the most critical element to the service that we provide.” Today, the FCC only has 50 MHz of spectrum in the pipeline that can be assigned for broadband use, which is just a fraction of the amount necessary to meet growing demands. However, in recent years, the FCC has recognized the need for a more efficient spectrum allocation model, encouraging secondary markets for spectrum, to allow for dynamic spectrum leasing, as well as releasing final rules to make the unused spectrum in the TV bands available for unlicensed use.

Although the FCC has shown its commitment to finding and freeing up other types of spectrum, Largent made a very good point in that bringing spectrum to market can often be a long and arduous process. “What a lot of people forget about is how long the process takes to get spectrum to the marketplace. The last two spectrum auctions that we had took somewhere between eight and 11 years to come to market. We simply can’t wait that long. The FCC and the president called for 500 MHz in the next 10 years and 300 MHz of that in the next five years. That is a laudable goal. We’re seeing if we can’t even get more spectrum and get it quicker.”

The process for transacting spectrum and bringing it to market can be a very lengthy process; in order to meet the growing demands from mobile users, wireless devices, and wireless access technologies that utilize spectrum, it is critical that the FCC utilizes existing solutions to enable expeditious transactions. One way to realize the FCC’s vision for more efficient and available spectrum is allow companies such as Spectrum Bridge to facilitate commercial contracts for leasing in the secondary market for spectrum. The existing rules in place for secondary markets would help to repurpose spectrum more quickly, while improving the efficiency of this finite resource.

America’s growing demand for mobile access anytime and anywhere make it necessary to find new avenues for bandwidth, in addition to utilizing alternative solutions such as secondary markets to expedite the process of bringing spectrum to market. To learn more about secondary spectrum markets, visit the Useful Links section of our website or contact us.

Joe Hamilla