Let’s “Rocket Docket” Under-Used Wireless Spectrum

Lawmakers and industry experts want the federal government to repurpose some of it’s spectrum for wireless use, Inside Towers has reported.

Rather than take years to go this route, analyst Lawrence Spiwak says there’s a fix now. Given FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s priority “to increase infrastructure and wireless innovation,” it’s time for the agency to create an efficient, transparent process for spectrum licensees to convert what’s being under-used to a more “high-value” purpose, says Spiwak; he’s president of the Phoenix Center for Economic Public Policy Studies.

Doing this would “short-circuit the laborious task of identifying, clearing and auctioning potential “greenfield” bands of government spectrum … and provide a powerful incentive for existing license holders to convert their spectrum,” writes Spiwak in an opinion piece published in The Hill. The spectrum could then be used in enterprise partnerships, consumer-focused commercial endeavors, or sold in the secondary market for other purposes. All of this would lead to more high-value commercial spectrum available for wireless use — leading to greater investment, innovation and infrastructure deployment, according to Spiwak.

The chairman can develop a “rocket docket” proceeding to consider proposals from license holders on the best way to proceed. “Assuming there are no intractable interference issues,” the FCC can promise to complete the process within, say 12 months, “thus providing a relatively immediate solution to a spectrum-starved industry.” And to those who say this would create a financial windfall for those who participate “so what?” A similar concept seems to have worked out well for TV owners, notes Spiwak, citing the recent broadcast incentive auction.

July 11, 2017


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