Averting a spectrum disaster: Now for the hard part

by Larry Downes, CNET news.com

With new legislation authorizing incentive spectrum auctions, it’s tempting to think the crisis in mobile broadband has been avoided. But it will take at least 10 years to put new spectrum to work, and the FCC’s own estimate is that we have only three years left before hitting the wall. With the passage last week of legislation authorizing the FCC to conduct new spectrum auctions, you might think that the looming spectrum crisis has been averted. Nothing could be farther from the truth–or more dangerous to the continued health of the mobile ecosystem. To avoid severe service interruptions or outright collapse of mobile networks, the FCC’s 2010 National Broadband Plan estimated that mobile users will need an additional 300MHz of spectrum by 2015 and an additional 500 MHz by 2020. Many industry insiders believe these estimates are actually low.


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