Start-up launches spectrum marketplace

A new company called Spectrum Bridge has launched a Web site for buying and selling wireless spectrum licenses.

A Web site for matching buyers and sellers of wireless spectrum went live on Friday.

The site, which is run by a start-up called Spectrum Bridge, is aiming to make sense of an existing secondary market for wireless licenses, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The Federal Communications Commission periodically auctions off wireless spectrum licenses. Most of the spectrum licenses are used to provide cell phone service or to provide two-way radio communication or for emergency personnel. But there is some spectrum that is not used and lays fallow.

Big wireless operators, such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint Nextel, regularly trade these small slivers of spectrum licenses as do smaller license holders like universities or religious broadcasters. But now Spectrum Bridge's Web site will help make this process more efficient allowing sellers to know the clear value of their spectrum and allowing buyers to know who is selling spectrum, the Journal article


A spokesman for the FCC told the Journal that Chairman Kevin Martin has always supported the idea of secondary markets, which should prove to be a big help since buyers and sellers will need to get FCC approval for the transfer of licenses.

While the idea sounds like a good one, the article also points out that other wireless marketplaces haven't done so well in the past. The financial-services firm Cantor Fitzgerald launched a wireless spectrum market place that has failed to gain traction.

But as less spectrum is available for auction and licenses become more scarce, it might help spur adoption of the Spectrum Bridge marketplace. This is especially true after the FCC recently completed two major spectrum auctions in the last couple of years. What's more, as cable operators and other companies, such as Google, become interested in wireless and mobile services it creates more demand for wireless spectrum. And the could end up being the place to go. Verizon Wireless told the Journal that it could be both a buyer and a seller of these licenses. But AT&T declined to comment and Sprint was unavailable for comment.

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