Start-up looks to jump start secondary spectrum market

A start-up is building what it calls the world's first online, real-time market for wireless spectrum. Spectrum Bridge officially came out of stealth mode today, announcing the launch of its new business plan, which aims to simplify and enable the market for secondary spectrum access.

"After the 700 MHz auction is wrapped up, the FCC has no more desirable spectrum to auction for mobile broadband," Rick Rotondo, vice president of marketing with Spectrum Bridge, said in an interview with FierceBroadbandWireless. "We started looking into industry and government studies and found that in any given time and place, 80 percent to 94 percent of all allocated spectrum in the U.S. goes unused. We've done the measurements and found the same thing."

Spectrum Bridge's management team, comprised of former WiFi vendor Mesh Networks, which was sold to Motorola, realized that not all enterprises can rely on unlicensed WiFi networks. Many need to have access to licensed spectrum to enable higher-power networks. At the same time, many spectrum holders are sitting on vacant spectrum, realizing it's a valuable asset but not using it.

Spectrum Bridge is taking advantage of the fact that the FCC has given its blessing to the secondary spectrum market. Specifically, the FCC allows spectrum holders to disaggregate spectrum along frequency, time and coverage domain and basically create offerings for any amount of spectrum, any time, length and any size footprint up to the total amount of license. The problem is, most license-holders don't have the resources to come up with their own offerings nor is there a marketplace to make offers available to potential licensees.

That's where the real-time web site comes in. Spectrum Bridge, through some proprietary technology, aims to simplify the entire process of secondary market transactions, from identifying, packaging and pricing available spectrum to helping those who purchase the spectrum by offering a number of partners.

For instance, a license holder with 20 megahertz could create separate leasing offers, leasing 10 megahertz of its spectrum for two months to an enterprise for a retail price. Operators can more easily trade spectrum.

"This opens up a mass market for wireless operators to get access to affordable licensed spectrum," Rotondo said. "It allows a spectrum holder to monetize the unused portion of section assets.

The Web-based system will automatically configure the end user's wireless network to ensure compliance with appropriate regulatory service rules and automatically generate all required FCC filings for the spectrum transaction.

Spectrum Bridge hopes to get the business model and technology up and running later this year, with the spectrum exchange tool going live in the third quarter and the spectrum management application going online by the end of the year.

So for all those players that missed out on the 700 MHz auction, there is hope for spectrum.--Lynnette

Check out the company's web site.