US Spectrum Outlook: Smooth Not Crunchy?

So is the spectrum crunch in the United States over?

I ask because Verizon CFO Fran Shammo certainly seemed to indicate it was the case on Thursday. (See Verizon Ups Spend for VoLTE & 4G Video Hogs.)

"We are not under any spectrum pressure," Shammo said.

This got people on my Twitter feed chatting.

"AT&T & T-Mobile executives have made very similar comments in the past," said Matthew Hussey. "So is there a real spectrum crunch?"

It's a fair question after years of executives constantly warning of a spectrum shortage. (See Verizon Fears 4G Spectrum Shortfall .)

My take is that the round of spectrum swaps, sales and mergers that the big four operators have undertaken have left them in a much better position. It probably gets to be a bit silly to keep banging the spectrum shortage drum when just four companies hold so much of this precious and finite resource in the United States.

The picture is quite different for smaller operators here and many carriers in the rest of world. And obviously smart spectrum re-use will be crucial for all in major metro areas.

But the spectrum shortage is eased for a select few. Over time, however, the issue is bound to re-emerge.

As Verizon's Shammo also said, users keep upping their data usage. And technologies such as LTE-Advanced work best with wider radio channels.

So the hunt for spectrum will continue over the longer term. "We're in good shape for three to four years," Verizon's Shammo suggested Thursday.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Dan Henry 7/23/2013 | 7:32:43 PM
re: US Spectrum Outlook: Smooth Not Crunchy? I have to wonder if they're just trying to depress the value of the spectrum ahead of the incentive auction.
DanJonesLRMobile 7/22/2013 | 2:15:17 PM
re: US Spectrum Outlook: Smooth Not Crunchy? Yeah, the thing Sprint will need to address is indoor coverage, not so hot in the 2.6GHz band.
wvan235 7/21/2013 | 10:48:49 PM
re: US Spectrum Outlook: Smooth Not Crunchy? The issue of carrier spectrum will get more attention now that Sprint has more spectrum than Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile combined.
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