WISPA Raises Opposition Over Spectrum Licensing

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From The Article:
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – Jul 14, 2011) – Today the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), which represents small- and medium-sized fixed wireless broadband service providers (WISPs), issued a letter strongly opposing aspects of the draft bill entitled “Spectrum Innovation Act of 2011.” WISPA members provide fixed wireless broadband services using primarily unlicensed frequencies to over 2 million Americans.

According to WISPA’s letter, this draft bill threatens the continued deployment of affordable fixed broadband services to Americans living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country. If passed, the legislation would eliminate the ability to use unlicensed spectrum, which is an essential tool for the delivery of broadband to these areas. It would drive up costs without generating the expected auction revenues.

“This bill fails to recognize the critical role historically played by WISPs in delivering Internet to rural areas,” states Rick Harnish, Executive Director of WISPA. “What has been forgotten is that the availability of unlicensed spectrum is what has allowed WISPs to deliver broadband to those who would otherwise have none.”

If the proposed bill passes, all spectrum would be subject to an auction process, meaning that those who want spectrum to be licensed (and thereby exclusive) and those who want spectrum to be unlicensed (and thereby non-exclusive) would bid against each other. Only if the aggregate amount of bids placed for unlicensed use exceeds the highest bid for licensed use would the spectrum be deemed “unlicensed” and available for general use.

“In the past, spectrum auctions favor the larger providers, who purchase auctioned spectrum for millions, sometimes billions, of dollars and often ‘warehouse’ it,” Harnish notes. “These providers either do not use the spectrum at all or choose to deploy it in more-populated and wealthy areas. This leaves underserved consumers — and smaller Internet service providers — without sufficient spectrum to deliver Internet service.”

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