Originally published: June 12, 2012
Last updated: June 12, 2012 - 7:05pm
We agree with AT&T's CEO, Randall Stephenson, that it is critical for the economy to "put precious spectrum to work." As he suggests, too much spectrum capacity lies fallow. However, while AT&T's focus is on re-purposing spectrum for exclusive use by wireless providers, there is a very limited supply of prime spectrum that can be quickly re-sold or cleared for auction.
The nation needs an additional policy push to open unused and lightly used spectrum for shared use on a more expedited basis. For example, the military and other federal agencies control by far the largest amount of unused spectrum capacity. Although these federal systems cannot quickly or easily move off of the spectrum, technology today permits shared use with the private sector. In fact, this is already happening on a limited basis, but could be expanded to substantially increase the amount of spectrum available for wireless communications while also spurring new technological innovation.
While Stephenson's suggestions for ending spectrum speculation and encouraging secondary markets are good ones, the long-term demand for high-speed mobile broadband will not be met unless the nation begins today to open federal and other unused spectrum capacity for shared use to the greatest extent possible."
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