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FCC Panelists Valued Wireless Spectrum by Current Use, by Cost and by Demand

in FCC Workshops/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2009 – A three-panel workshop on the role of wireless spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan considered how one could tell the value of spectrum: by its current use, by its cost, and by demand.

These were the central discussions at the agency’s Spectrum workshop on September 17. Among the issues discussed were fourth-generation wireless supply and demand, sources of spectrum, and innovation in spectrum access.

The economic efficiency of spectrum becomes a crucial means to measure the efficiency of spectrum, since many bands have been undervalued.

Apple’s iPhone is jacking up the capacity of video downloads 75 percent, according to Kris Rinne, the senior vice president of Architecture and Planning at AT&T. “We need to start thinking of global harmonization, and band spectrum efficiency,” Rinne said.

“There is [a] need to set apart specific spectrum for backhaul, in order to deal with surge,” said Tarun Gupta, vice president of strategic development at Fiber Tower. “Spectrum also needs to be allocated more in order to be of more use to consumers, which includes those in the rural areas.”

The panel could not quantify how much spectrum is needed in the country, but there was a general agreement that licensing spectrum is key to the monitoring of its use. Backhaul involves questions of integrating wireline and wireless technologies.

Panelists urged both an increase in the supply of spectrum, and a more efficient use of spectrum through the “white spaces” of current vacant television channels. Costs of allocation is still a major issue for wireless carriers, said Kathleen O’Brien Ham, vice president of Federal Regulatory Affairs at T-Mobile USA, as companies seek to clear spectrum in more markets.

“We also need more certainty around time frames since there is need to share the spectrum,” she said.

Secondary markets were also discussed, with more calls for a more robust and functional market since there is a significant growth in the secondary market.

Panelists also urged the FCC to identify individual users of spectrum in order to help facilitate greater utilization.

Workshop presentations and video.

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An intern at the National Journalism Center, Mercy was a Reporter-Researcher for until November 2009. She was a business reporter on leave from the Daily Nation of Nairobi, Kenya. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Education from Daystar University in Nairobi.

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