FCC Chief Prods Net Industry on Wireless Spectrum

SAN MATEO (05/31/2000) - The U.S. government's communications czar today urged the wireless Internet industry to steer clear of spectrum gluttony which could lead to a dearth of wireless spectrum just as that industry is poised to take off.

William Kennard, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, pitched a three-part plan to avoid what he called "spectrum drought."

Spectrum drought is a phenomenon being caused by the overwhelming number of wireless devices -- mobile phones, faxes, and wireless computers -- now jamming the airwaves.

Kennard suggested first that the wireless industry approach spectrum like any other marketplace commodity.

Specifically, he said, spectrum is fluid and may require a secondary market to match short-term supply with demand.

Kennard then advocated better use of spectrum management tools to control the supply of spectrum. He cited specifically ultrawideband and software-defined radios as possibilities.

Finally, Kennard urged efficiency in slicing up use of limited wireless spectrum.

The FCC chairman delivered his plan to a public forum the agency held Wednesday on secondary spectrum markets.

Kennard said such a secondary market for wireless spectrum might mirror the telecommunications industry's T-1 secondary market or even those in other industries such as energy, where there are secondary markets for petroleum.

The Federal Communications Commission, in Washington, is at www.fcc.gov.

Jennifer Jones is an InfoWorld senior editor.

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