To ease the spectrum crunch, Federal Communications Commission chairman
Michael Powell said Wednesday that the government must rethink its 70-year-old model
for managing the airwaves, launched at the dawn of the broadcast era.
Rather than roping off spectrum bands for specific services such as
broadcasting and cellular phones, the government should put underutilized portions
of spectrum into the hands of new users.
While some bands are heavily used, others are not or are employed only part
of the time, Powell told a telecommunications conference at the University of
Colorado at Boulder. "There is a substantial amount of 'white space' out there
not being used by anybody," he said.
Powell reiterated optimistic predictions for "software-defined radios" that
allow service providers to temporary access to a variety of spectrum bands using
devices tuned by flexible software, rather than by hardware locked to one
particular band. "Secondary markets can provide a mechanism for licensees to
create and provide opportunities for new services in distinct slices of time,"