Google's Wireless Architect Speaks Against Spectrum Auctions

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Major spectrum auctions can play a huge part in determining how the broadband and wireless playing fields will look for years to come, and Google Principal Wireless Architect Preston Marshall says that this process is largely pointless. According to Marshall, the money spent on spectrum auctions should instead be spent on development, and the system, as it is now, leaves some spectrum idle, which is not an ideal scenario by any means. He also touched on the fact that the US Citizens Broadband Radio Service is working on solving some of these issues with a more direct approach that essentially sidesteps the entire auction system.

In a typical auction, a selected subset of spectrum is offloaded from its current users, then put on the market for new spectrum users to bid on and eventually use. This creates needless scarcity, according to Marshall, and does not infuse any capital back into the ecosystem that it’s serving. He also said that the CBRS had a “new model” in regards to how spectrum is distributed and used, calling the idea “market-driven” and saying that it would “fundamentally change” the workings of the spectrum ecosystem as it is now. Speaking on 5G, Marshall was sure to emphasize that the technology extends far beyond the mobile sphere, and as such, should not be approached from a purely mobile angle.

It is certainly worth mentioning that Preston Marshall is the director of the CRBS, which includes members from companies like Intel, Qualcomm, and CTIA. The organization is dedicated to the development and deployment of wireless services on organization-owned spectrum in designated bands, and employs a sort of merit system to determine who gets to use what spectrum and for what projects. In working toward the common interest of both members and the general public, CBRS essentially seeks to take the capitalism out of spectrum management, wherein it has the power to do so, and instead approach the issue from the angle of what measures can provide the greatest objective good to the greatest number of people using services on the spectrum. One of the organization’s goals is also to ensure that spectrum is used efficiently in capacities both in and out of the organization, including buying up otherwise idle spectrum where applicable, then putting that spectrum toward whomever and whatever is deemed the best use for it.