Green principles for spectrum licensing

The structure chosen by Industry Canada for the advanced wireless services spectrum auction makes possible a very interesting landscape in the industry, with the chance for smaller operators to buy spectrum to serve local interests. Analysts Iain Grant and Lawrence Surtees discuss this regionality in our front page story, AWS auction applicants announced. (I like alliteration. So sue me.)

But the limitations of the printed page meant that an important and interesting perspective had to be cut out, though it remains in the online version of the story (enter the QuickLink number, 089990, in the box on our home page at, or click here.).

Michael Kedar is a Canadian wireless pioneer, company founder, RF expert and entrepreneur. While the debate raged last summer over whether spectrum should be set aside for new entrants, Kedar was a lone voice wondering if we needed to auction 105 MHz of spectrum at all. The U.S., after all, only auctioned off 90 MHz in the 2.4 GHz range; shouldn’t Canada be reserving some spectrum for sensitive applications like health care and financial services?

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The troika of incumbent carriers is in on the auction, although they’ve got spectrum they’re not using. What they want that spectrum for (certainly they wouldn’t be hoarding?), Kedar argues, is applications like downloading music and video, tasks much more efficiently (and cheaply) accomplished on a home PC and transferred to a mobile device. More competitive wholesaling arrangements would make it unneccessary for regional carriers to buy their own spectrum. We didn’t need to license more spectrum (other than the 40 MHz for new entrants to apply some competitive pressure); we need more efficient use of the spectrum that’s already licensed.

It’s an interesting take. And it’s timely. I can’t check my inbox these days without some vendor or other spinning a product as “green” or “environmentally friendly.” Spectrum is a resource, too, and maybe we should conserve some.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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