Treat Spectrum Like Pork Bellies, FCC Honcho Says

BOSTON (05/31/2000) - U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard has called for an "aggressive program" to avoid a drought of spectrum - invisible but finite airwaves - needed to support new broadband wireless data services.

"There is no inherent reason why a spot market for wireless bandwidth cannot develop, just like one for petroleum and pork bellies and (wired) T1 (1.54M-bps) lines," Kennard said today, kicking off an FCC public forum on the possibility of creating secondary markets in spectrum. Currently, the FCC awards spectrum licenses to the winners of auctions, some of whom do not use all the bandwidth they win.

Mobile phones and wireless computers "are consuming spectrum faster than we can make it available," Kennard said, "and we are in danger a spectrum drought. We need to find spectrum to build a web of wireless applications that will continue to fuel our economic growth. The demand for spectrum is outstripping supply."

Kennard said he believes a fluid secondary spectrum market could instantly match short-term supply with short-term demand.