The broadcast incentive auction hasn’t even been held yet, but the wireless industry is worried that there will be no new spectrum in the pipeline after the final gavel falls.
CTIA-The Wireless Industry association predicts there will be a 78 fold increase in wireless data demand by 2019 and that this increased traffic would require an additional 350 mHz of spectrum from federal regulators.
More worrisome to the CTIA: the typical time from proposal to deployment for a new block of spectrum is 13 years.
“The protracted process of freeing up spectrum places the U.S. at risk of losing its wireless broadband leadership. It is critical to move now to identify new bands to enable the continued growth of wireless—for 4G LTE, LTE Advanced, the Internet of Things, and next generation technologies like 5G,” wrote the CTIA in a just released white paper.
Quick history of spectrum deployment
|Spectrum||First Step||Available||Deployment||Time Lag|
|AWS-3||2002||2015||2017 (est.)||15 years|
|AWS-4||2003||2012||2017 (est.)||14 year|
Source: CTIA-The Wireless Association
The white paper recapped a number of the time consuming challenges faced by the mobile data providers when deploying new spectrum such as the design and manufacture of network equipment, interference testing, and refitting cell tower sites to handle the new spectrum.
How to move forward? The CTIA notes that the federal government has “sole or primary use of 60-70 percent of spectrum suitable for wireless broadband.” While the report gives the Obama administration credit for emphasizing spectrum issues across executive departments and agencies, the CTIA urges continued focus by Congress and the executive branch. “Without Administration backing and commitment, spectrum reallocations efforts may lag even further behind.”