Spectrum Crisis is ‘Science Fiction,’ NAB’s Study Concludes
April 26, 2011
WASHINGTON: The looming spectrum crisis is manufactured,
according to a former Federal Communications Commission official. In a study
commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters, Uzoma Onyeije says
the “spectrum crisis is factually revisionist.”
“Wireless carriers do not suffer from a nationwide ‘spectrum crisis;’ they face
a capacity crunch in a limited number of locations. And there are a variety of
tools at carriers’ disposal for addressing capacity concerns. However,
policymakers have not adequately explored these tools,” Onyeije writes.
He notes AT&T and Verizon’s migration to fourth-generation LTE, said to be
twice as spectrally efficient as current third-generation wireless networks.
“Assuming spectral efficiency advances stay on their current trajectory, there
will be significant--and to-date insufficiently examined--capacity gains for
mobile carriers,” Onyeije notes.
He also points out that voice calls could be more efficiently handled as
packet-based Internet Protocol rather than circuit-switched traffic. Offloading
mobile Internet traffic to Wi-Fi fixed locations is also expected to rise,
and therefore increase capacity. Onyeije quotes American Tower Corp. chief
James Taiclet as saying the company’s 38,000 tower sites are at about 50
“AT&T and other wireless operators could double the amount of capacity they
supply with current spectrum by investing more in new wireless equipment on
existing cell towers,” Taiclet is quoted as saying.
Onyeije, former broadband legal advisor at the FCC Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau, debunked the existence of the spectrum crisis now being used to justify
the reallocation of 40 percent of the broadcast spectrum for broadband.
“In the final analysis, the impending spectrum crisis is not real,” he said.
“In fact, it includes all the elements of a bestselling science-fiction novel.
First, the story seamlessly merges reality and fantasy. Second, the tale
includes dire predictions about the future if, and only if, the worst-case
scenario were to happen concerning a long list of variables. Third, the account
ignores all simple solutions in favor of a dramatic conclusion.
“And, of course, there is a manufactured enemy. In this case, many seem to
indirectly and incorrectly believe that free over-the-air broadcasting is the
enemy of mobile broadband. But this debate masks the fact that there are other
spectrum resources available and that carriers and the FCC have meaningful
alternatives to manage the increased demand for data services.”
~ Deborah D. McAdams
See . . .
The Capacity Crunch: Options for Enhancing Data Capacity on Wireless Networks”
Susan Polyakova of the Wireless Communications Association International replies:
“The latest spectrum paper by Onyeije Consulting submitted by broadcasters to the FCC proposes alternatives to incentive auctions but doesn’t provide any technical or economic analysis demonstrating that these alternatives would actually work. The paper also ignores the fact that the best alternative to solve the spectrum crisis is to make more spectrum available, and broadcasters are sitting on an enormous amount of the best spectrum for mobile broadband.”