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Tech Companies Seek More Airwaves as Christmas Present

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 18, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

With Christmas coming, many of us are thinking about smartphones and tablet computers as gifts for our loved ones and even ourselves. But we do not tend to think about the airwaves needed for those devices to receive signals and download data.

Not to worry, though: Your technology companies are making the case to Congress that additional airwaves need to be opened up.

Indeed, a coalition of tech companies forwarded a letter to certain members of Congress last week in an effort to gain greater access to airwaves, according to The Hill's Hillicon Valley blog. Signatories to the letter included Apple, Cisco, Samsung, RIM, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and Alcatel-Lucent.

While the FCC is trying to initiate legal efforts to auction off some TV stations' airwaves to create a greater "spectrum" for cellular carriers, the tech companies believe that there will need to be additional auctions, as reported by the blog.

The tech companies also are taking the position, according to the blog, that the auctions should include part of the spectrum presently being used by the federal government.

Specifically, their letter to Congress states:

"Now is the time to ensure the incentive auctions are as robust and successful as possible at liberating spectrum. We should also turn our collective attention on ways to reap the economic benefits of underutilized federal spectrum assets."

The tech companies assert in their letter that Congress should encourage federal spectrum users to "become more efficient, to share with one another, to vacate, or to lease their spectrum."

Importantly, the tech companies maintain that simply creating brand-new spectrum technologies will not be adequate to keep up with the increasing huge demand for mobile data. As a consequence, they say in their letter that "we cannot simply engineer our way out of this problem."

So, this holiday season, you might wish not only for smartphones and tablet computers, but for sufficient airwaves for them going forward.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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