March 17, 2000The tremendous success of wireless has come at a price. With all the new wireless products out there --the mobile phones, the devices for wireless Internet, palm pilots and two- way pagers --, we are running out of spectrum.
One way to head off a spectrum drought is to make sure that the spectrum that we have licensed is always in use. Ensuring that consumer demand is met requires that we push the envelope.
We can do this by creating fluid markets in spectrum so that spectrum users can instantly match short-term supply with short-term demand. We must craft rules that allow spectrum to flow as freely in the marketplace as any other commodity.
Last week the Commission took an important step in this direction by creating a new type of license in the 700 MHz band called the "guard band manager". Holders of these licenses will be able to subdivide their spectrum and make it available for others to use it as they see fit, so long as adjacent public safety users are protected.
I view this proceeding on Software Defined Radio as another critical step in the development of a more fluid spectrum market. Software defined radios are smart devices that can make good use of underused spectrum. They can operate as a cell phone one minute, a PCS phone the next, a taxi dispatch radio later on and a two-way pager after that. They can literally bridge the gaps created by differences in frequency and transmission standards. In this way, they can make all spectrum users - from average consumers to police, fire and EMS workers who need to talk to each other - - more productive and efficient.