Could agencies sell frequencies for cash?
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel suggests that agencies could sell unused spectrum to offset some revenue losses.
The Federal Communications Commission's spectrum auctions have raised nearly $50 billion. In the next round, could individual federal agencies cash in on the spectrum they control?
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel floated that idea in a speech she delivered on Nov. 13, speaking at an event on "the next 10 years of spectrum policy" hosted by the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship.
Rosenworcel noted that digital spectrum is in demand, and federal agencies control a lot of it -- not always efficiently.
"Once a communications network has been built, once a land mobile radio system is operational, agencies do not want to change because it disrupts their mission," Rosenworcel said. "This is completely rational. But what if we were to financially reward federal authorities for efficient use of their spectrum resource? What if they were able to reclaim a portion of the revenue from the subsequent re-auction of their airwaves?"
Rosenworcel argued that such an approach would be "entirely consistent with the idea of synthetic currency proposed by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology," and that sequestration-driven budget cuts might give agency executives extra motivation to think differently about how to best use precious spectrum. "There may be no better enticement than the revenue from a spectrum auction to alleviate the pain of a budget cut," she said.
Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN. Connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.