There has been a lot of media coverage on the wireless industry recently, but there's a story that few are talking about which is vital for all of us. It's spectrum -- or the backbone of the industry.
And unless we get more spectrum, we are facing a crisis. All of the apps, speed, devices and other innovations from the wireless industry are in jeopardy unless we get more spectrum.
But what is spectrum? It's defined simply as frequencies that are designated for specific uses, such as personal communications services and public safety.
A few weeks ago, GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham wrote a great story outlining the issue and what's at stake. We also developed a very simple graphic that clearly shows the integral role spectrum plays in wireless -- we call it the "virtuous cycle."
What this diagram shows is that as long as more spectrum is available, the industry will continue to invest in networks to handle more capacity, device manufacturers will continue to develop new capabilities for handsets and content developers will continue to create new apps and content – which ultimately benefits the consumers who continue to want and expect more from their mobile devices. This is a cycle that never ends, BUT only if spectrum is made available.
So what is the industry asking? We are asking for:
1. Congress to pass the bipartisan Senate (S. 649) and House (HR 3125) Radio Spectrum Inventory Act which would tell us who's using what and where there's spectrum available.
2. Tower siting policy which would establish a "shot clock" -- 45 days for collocation (meaning where towers already exist) and 75 days for other facilities -- for zoning authorities to respond to applications. Right now, there is no "shot clock."
- Towers are vital to the industry to expand coverage for consumers.
- Of the 3,300 tower and antenna applications pending in the spring of 2008 for 7 wireless carriers, 760 were pending for more than 1 year.
- 180 were pending for more than 3 years.
- 135 of the 180 applications pending for more than 3 years are collocation applications where towers have already been approved.
Unless the U.S. gets more spectrum, there will not be enough bandwidth to continue to provide the apps, speed, devices and other innovations from the wireless industry that we all enjoy and have come to expect.