Spectrum is finite, but it doesn't need to be as scarce as it is. The problem is how the frequencies are being managed. Less than 10% of the spectrum coveted by wireless carriers has been allocated for commercial use. Much of the rest is controlled by the government. Television broadcasters and satellite companies also possess excess spectrum that could be made available to wireless carriers. Competitive bidding is the best way to allocate spectrum, but the government auctions are much too infrequent—only two in the past four years—and the licenses often come with cumbersome restrictions. The result is congested networks, frustrated customers and slower innovation.
Legislation sponsored by John Kerry and Olympia Snowe in the Senate, along with Henry Waxman and Rick Boucher in the House, would mandate an inventory of available spectrum to identify bands that are unused or underused. It's a good place to start.
Free the spectrum!