Spectrum Bridge is close to launching an online exchange that aims to provide a secondary market for licensed wireless spectrum. Secondary markets is a long talked about initiative that aims to allow holders of wireless spectrum to “lease” or otherwise make available portions of their spectrum to interested third parties or lessees. The “lessee” or buyer of the spectrum could in turn use it for their own purposes and launch wireless service. Spectrum Bridge claims to have created an online exchange, where leasers and lessees of available spectrum can meet, negotiate a price, meet all of the technical and regulatory requirements, and consummate a deal.
Should it prove to be viable, it may have serious competitive implications across many markets in the U.S. The impact would be felt in areas where wireless coverage is lacking. There are wide swaths of territory in lesser populated areas that have poor wireless coverage today. Owners of wireless spectrum, primarily the larger wireless carriers, choose not to serve those rural territories for various reasons. But since they own the spectrum for those territories, no other wireless service provider who may have an interest in serving that same territory can do so, unless they use less desirable unlicensed spectrum. If Spectrum Bridge can deliver what they are claiming, wireless spectrum holders may make parts of their spectrum available through an online exchange, empowering potential wireless service providers to lease it, and launch competitive service. If Spectrum Bridge’s exchange attracts both wireless spectrum holders and interested lessees, we could conceivably see competitive wireless offerings in many territories that currently have none. We’re far off from for the time being, because at least for right now, Spectrum Bridge has a website and a press release. But it will be well worth observing where they go from here. Stay tuned.