Friday, April 1, 2011

Are Companies Hoarding Wireless Spectrum?

Later this month, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, will be holding hearings on spectrum issues, including incentive auctions and allegations that some cable and wireless companies are "hoarding" spectrum.

A recent post at discusses Walden's back and forth with FCC Chair Julius Genachowski who has dismissed spectrum hoarding as occurring. Genachowski has been advocating for voluntary incentive auctions, in which broadcasters could choose to surrender spectrum to be auctioned off, receiving a cut of the proceeds in return and freeing up airwaves for mobile broadband.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)  is currently looking at proposals to re-purpose over-air television spectrum for mobile broadband and has jumped in, requesting that an independent analysis be done. On March 16 NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton released the following statement in response to a claim that the FCC has completed a baseline spectrum inventory:

The FCC statement is a disappointing response to Congress, which is seeking a thorough spectrum inventory. The question is not whether the FCC can identify locations and licenses on the spectrum dashboard that have been set aside for specific services. The real issue is whether specific companies that bought or were given spectrum worth billions have actually deployed it.
Bottom line is we are running out of spectrum.

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