Why OTT players care about spectrum
Dec 04, 2019 by Martin Sims


Perhaps the most spectacular aspect of spectrum policy is the spectrum auction. They involve large amounts of money changing hands and create “winners” and “losers”.

Operators and regulators spend a lot of resources making sure they get what they need from these events, and preparations for them often dominate spectrum policy discussions.

But in recent years more and more spectrum policy is being driven by companies with no interest in spectrum auctions. Instead, it is being influenced by companies apparently only looking to connect as many people as possible – Over The Top players such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

These companies often argue for unlicensed and/or shared spectrum access.

With vast resources and no incumbent telecoms business model to protect, these companies are also throwing money at alternative cutting-edge methods to provide connectivity. Some, such as CBRS or TV White Space, use technology developed by these companies. But all require access to spectrum.

The three companies profiled by PolicyTracker all make the top-20 lobbying spenders in the US. While they have many policy interests, the scale of their spending also has an impact on spectrum policy. Alphabet (Google) alone spent $21.8 million on lobbying last year. That’s almost double what industry lobby CTIA spent and more than six times as much as US-wide mobile operator Sprint.

Our profiles of OTT players spectrum policies’ are available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.

By Toby Youell