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Divvying Up the US' Crucial Wireless Spectrum

Update On :28 October 2014

Divvying Up the US' Crucial Wireless Spectrum

The U.S. government is about to hold another wireless spectrum auction. Why is spectrum so important? If you owned a brand new car with brand new tires, you would still need air in those tires in order to drive, right? That's wireless spectrum. It's the air inside the tires that lets you drive. Without spectrum, you can't use smartphone features like apps.

The problem is, wireless spectrum is not unlimited. There is a definite limit to the amount of spectrum we have available to use for a variety of industries. Wireless is just one of them.

There was such a shortage several years ago that the FCC directed some cable television spectrum to the wireless industry. That helped, but it did not solve the problem. It only bought some time. You can be sure the cable television industry wants its spectrum back.

Over the last few years, the amount of spectrum used has increased. The smartphone you carry uses wireless spectrum to connect to the Internet so your apps work. Without wireless spectrum, it would be like having a very high-speed superhighway right next to you, but no on or off ramp. That's wireless spectrum.

Since spectrum is so limited, and the need is so great, how do we split it up? What's fair? That's the question faced by many companies. How do we split up and auction off the available spectrum?

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