Apple, Ericsson, RIM and other tech firms lobby Congress for more spectrum

Group wants federal spectrum opened up for commercial use
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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and other technology companies sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to open up more spectrum for mobile broadband. The group, called the High Tech Spectrum Coalition, wants Congress to push for a successful incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum and also get federal agencies to share or give up their spectrum.

"Now is the time to ensure the incentive auctions are as robust and successful as possible at liberating spectrum," the companies said in the letter, which was first reported by The Hill. "We should also turn our collective attention on ways to reap the economic benefits of underutilized federal spectrum assets."

The timing of the letter appeared calculated to coincide with a congressional hearing this morning in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on spectrum. The hearing is scheduled to focus on the FCC's progress in setting up the incentive auctions and freeing up spectrum for mobile broadband.

The coalition's members also include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU), Cisco Systems, Intel, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Samsung and several trade groups. The push comes as the FCC is moving forward with a process to define rules for the broadcast auction. A significant chunk of the FC's goal of freeing up to 300 MHz of spectrum by 2015 rests on getting airwaves from broadcasters.

The FCC has also pushed this year to get federal spectrum freed for mobile broadband use, or at least shared with commercial carriers. Earlier this year the FCC granted permission to T-Mobile USA to test the concept of sharing spectrum between federal and commercial users in the 1755-1780 MHz band. The FCC hopes to count spectrum freed up this way toward its goal.

Federal agencies using spectrum should be incentivized to "become more efficient, to share with one another, to vacate, or to lease their spectrum," the companies said, adding that advances like LTE and other efficiency gains will not be enough to meet mobile broadband demand.

"As technology companies, we joined this debate because policymakers need to know that we cannot simply engineer our way out of this problem," the companies wrote.

For more:
- see this The Hill article
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this Innovation Files post

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FCC's Genachowski: We're on track to free up 300 MHz of spectrum by 2015
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T-Mobile: We'll prove shared 1755-1780 MHz band can be auctioned
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