Incentives, Opportunities, and Testing Needed to Enhance Spectrum Sharing

November 14, 2012

Some spectrum users may lack incentive to share spectrum or otherwise use it efficiently, and federal agencies and private users currently cannot easily identify spectrum available for sharing. Typically, paying the market price for a good or service helps to inform users of the value of the good and provides an incentive for efficient use. Federal agencies, however, pay only a small fee to the NTIA for spectrum assignments and therefore have little incentive to share spectrum. Federal agencies also face concerns that sharing could risk the success of security or safety missions, or could be costly in terms of upgrades to more spectrally efficient equipment. Nonfederal users, such as private companies, are also reluctant to share spectrum. For instance, license holders may be reluctant to encourage additional competition, and companies may be hesitant to enter into sharing agreements that require potentially lengthy and unpredictable regulatory processes. Sharing can be costly for them, too. For example, nonfederal users may be required to cover all interference mitigation costs to use a federal spectrum band, which might include multiple federal users. Sharing can also be hindered because information on federal spectrum use is lacking and information regarding some federal spectrum use may never be publicly available, a situation that makes it difficult for users to identify potential spectrum for sharing.

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