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Wireless Spectrum for the Masses?

An interesting company has debuted today. Spectrum Bridge claims to be the world?? first online, real-time marketplace where buyers and sellers can trade wireless airwaves, used for providing wireless services.

If this idea takes off, it could be a game-changer for the wireless industry. Since the 1990s, when the Federal Communications Commission began auctioning off wireless spectrum, the majority of the airwaves had gone to large telecom companies, able to shell out billions for them. Most chunks of the spectrum they?? bought were expensive and large, covering the whole of the Northeast, or a major city. But what if you just want to buy a piece of the airwaves around your house?

Spectrum Bridge wants to allow individuals, small businesses and municipalities to be able to easily buy tiny chunks of wireless spectrum on a secondary market. In the U.S. alone, some $200 billion worth of airwaves is allowed to be resold by their current holders. And Spectrum Bridge hopes to make it easy for small-time buyers to hook up with equipment makers and integrators to build their networks right there, on the same Web site.

The idea certainly sounds a bit out there. I can't see a lot of small businesses springing for even small chunks of spectrum; most manage to keep operating via Wi-Fi -- using unlicensed, free airwaves -- just fine. Yet, Richard Licursi, president and CEO of Spectrum Bridge, tells me that there are plenty of companies looking to build their own, wireless broadband networks, allowing them to securely conduct video surveillance of the premises. He hopes to see demand from airports, ports and mining operations as well.

Licursi has been in the wireless industry for a long time: He'd previously served as CEO of MeshNetworks, a company purchased by Motorola. The exchange will go live in the third quarter.

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