FCC asked to eliminate wireless spectrum cap

Two U.S. congressmen asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a Friday letter to lift restrictions on the amount of spectrum wireless phone carriers may license in a market.

The two Republican representatives argued in the letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell that there is more than enough competition in the wireless marketplace, and that the spectrum cap is "antiquated" and hinders service.

"As the traffic volumes on wireless networks demonstrated on September 11th, wireless carriers do not appear to possess enough spectrum to meet anticipated future demand," wrote W.J. "Billy" Tauzin of Louisiana, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, and Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the Telecommunications and Internet subcommittee.

A flurry of cell phone company mergers may occur if the FCC relaxes limits on how much spectrum each carrier may license in a geographic area, an analyst said.

"I think you could see some market consolidation," said David Berndt, director of wireless mobile technologies at the Yankee Group Inc. research firm. However, blaming spectrum limitations for jammed wireless networks on Sept. 11 is "simplistic," he added. Good coverage from cell phone towers is as much a factor in alleviating network congestion as adequate spectrum.

Powell has publicly expressed interest in revisiting the spectrum cap rules.

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