My five ideas for getting the spectrum situation sorted out here in the USA in the short to medium term. This doesn’t include any sort of 600MHz-band incentive auction because that wont be ready for devices until 2017 at least, if not 2020.
- Grant Verizon’s AWS spectrum acquisition from the cable companies on the two following conditions – they sell their 700MHz A&B block spectrum (probably to AT&T and regional carriers) and they sell their AWS F block holding (presumably to T-Mobile, giving it enough spectrum to deploy LTE on the entirety of the eastern half of the US). The second condition would be a tough sell for Verizon – thats a ton of valuable spectrum, but its also not likely to be used for a good 4 years assuming they use their newly acquired block first – the only major metro areas they don’t own in the newly acquired cable spectrum is Buffalo NY and Cincinatti OH, not exactly hotbeds of technological innovation demanding higher speeds (plus, AT&T owns those licenses, maybe they swap them for some of the B licenses Verizon owns).
- Grant Dish Network their request to turn their 40MHz spectrum holdings into terrestrial cellular spectrum. Swap the necessary spectrum pieces such that the new spectrum is AWS-1 adjacent – free up the spectrum between 1755-1800MHz (currently used by DoD), swap the 2000-2020 band with 1780-1800 (put first priority to free up this spectrum) and pair that with 2180-2200; then auction off 1755-1780 paired with 2155-2180 at a later date after the spectrum has been completely vacated. Try to get the first 20MHz swap done by end of 2014 for the first LTE-Adv devices, and the latter 50MHz by 2017.
- Find other spectrum to trade Lightsquared’s current GPS-adjacent holdings with so it can proceed with building their network. If it is not possible to relocate LS’s holdings, then they’ll just have to give up.
- Issue an order against spectrum warehousing – all spectrum that is currently not used and has not been used either since allocation or in the last 4 years must be either returned to the FCC or sold to another party (who would still be on the hook with above requirements) before January 1, 2016. Exemptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis for those companies who have spectrum for future expansion (the FCC will judge how likely and capable they are in their plans and grant or deny).
- All future auctions will not be sold to the highest bidder, but rather companies with the least warehoused spectrum and that show the best business plan to deploy equipment to use that spectrum. Both technical and financial factors will be considered. The goal here is to not raise subscribers bills, and provide for faster mobile broadband.