You’d think that with the FCC conducting so many wireless spectrum auctions, that all that spectrum sold off for billions of dollars would be all used up. The sad truth is that many companies who win spectrum at auction end up sitting on it. All of this “fallow” spectrum is a big problem. A Florida startup called Spectrum Bridge today launched a marketplace to address this problem.
Companies that own spectrum can use Spectrum Bridge to find buyers and sellers for portions of spectrum they own that they don’t need. The marketplace has $250 million worth of spectrum listed, which is not that much considering that companies spent $19 billion on the last official FCC auction. But at least it is a start. The secondary market for spectrum is grossly inefficient today, mostly consisting of side deals between telecom companies.
Before the last big FCC wireless spectrum auctions, one of the rules Google proposed addressed this problem:
Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms.
That rule was never adopted. Maybe Spectrum Bridge will have better luck.
Spectrum Bridge has raised $2 million from Milcom Venture Partners, True Ventures, and the government-funded Telecommunications Development Fund (FCC chairman Kevin Martin sits on its board). The management team comes from Motorola’s Mesh Networks.