Government Considers New Shared Spectrum Proposals
Incumbent Carriers Really Aren't Going to Like This...
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology sent the Obama Administration a new report
(pdf) last week requesting that the President make even more airwaves available for wireless services -- and that those airwaves be shared. The Obama administration pledged in 2010 to make another 500 megahertz available over 10 years to wireless carriers, but the President's advisors argue that this total should be increased to around 1000 megahertz. More interesting perhaps is the proposal's recommendation that this spectrum be shared among companies, instead of sold and locked down by carriers. From the report:
Another recommended change is that Federal spectrum, instead of being divided into small, dedicated frequency blocks as it is at present, should be divided into substantial frequency blocks spanning several hundred megahertz. Establishing these wide bands will make it easier for spectrum sharing to be the norm, a transformation in which all Federal agencies would be required to cooperate. Making spectrum access available to a wide range of services and applications will also require provision of a framework that establishes minimum technical standards for the coexistence of transmitters and receivers, in contrast to the present system that focuses on transmitters.
That's a proposal that certainly isn't going to sit well with incumbent operators, who've balked at previous suggestions of this type -- in part because allowing them to squat on a supposedly publicly-owned resource gives them a way to help prevent alternative competitors from emerging. In turn, it may not float easily within the heavily-lobbied Congress. The report on gives a few vague suggestions for these shared spectrum trials, which could involve semi-exclusive licenses where they share airwaves with government services, or some kind of unlicensed approach not unlike white space broadband.