Google pushes spectrum subleasing


Google auctions its own online advertising, under terms of which companies control where their ads will appear on Google's search engine by how much they're willing to pay per click. The online giant thinks this model could lead to much more efficient use of the radio spectrum, and suggests that the FCC allow its auction winners to offer wholesale whatever spectrum it has but is not using.

According to the Associated Press, in certain areas fully 95% of available spectrum is going unused, and it thinks that license holders in such an area should be allowed to auction of pieces of it "on a wholesale basis" to smaller companies that do not have the wherewithal to engage in a full-fledged bidding war.

Google says the net result will be newfound competition in the effort to bring wireless broadband to both homes and businesses. A large chunk of prime spectrum is coming on the market as television broadcasters get set to turn in their analog licenses and begin digital-only transmission beginning 2/17/09. The spectrum auction will take place well before that date, and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (R) has been talking about getting the auction under way as early as this Fall.

RBR observation: This appears to come in under the heading of an idea worth looking at, but not one to rush into headlong. One watchdog mentioned the ugly possibility of a small company investing heavily in a spectrum device only to find itself shut out of the spectrum once an private auction is completed. The big positive for broadcasters in all this is that they will be long gone from this portion of the spectrum while such issues are hammered out. There will no doubt be plenty of digital conversion issues, and it will be nice to let someone else worry about this one.