13 October 2010

Markets in spectrum licenses

I have an abiding interest in cooperative spectrum sharing. One form of this sharing is license trading, though the volume of spectrum trades are quite impressive (see this paper). But the FCC Universal Licensing System does not contain the dollar value of spectrum transactions, which makes this article all the more interesting. According to the article,

The company is selling up to 40 megahertz of spectrum per market, a slice of its wireless capacity, one person said. A value of 20 cents to 40 cents per megahertz of spectrum per U.S. resident would reach the $2.5 billion to $5 billion price tag, Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Chicago, said in a research note today.

The lower end of that range would be in line with sales of similar spectrum in Europe, she said. The company has an average of 120 megahertz of spectrum in each market, she said.

This is precisely the kind of outcome I expect in an unregulated market: companies that have more spectrum than they need should sell it to those that need more. What is clearly missing is public pricing information!