On July 31, 2001, Marty joined a distinguished panel of mobile industry executives to share their thoughts on spectrum allocation for 3G mobile networks. Marty opened his remark with a humorous “dig” on his fellow panelists:
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. It’s really a privilege for me to be here before you today… It’s also a great pleasure to be the last on this agenda so that I could explain to you what my distinguished colleagues really meant to say. (LAUGHTER)
The “distinguished colleagues included:
- William Hatch, Acting Administrator, National Telecommunications And Information Administration, Commerce Department
- Julius Knapp, Deputy Chief, Office Of Engineering And Technology, Federal Communications Commission
- Linton Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary Of Defense, Command, Control, Communications And Intelligence
- Denny Strigl, Chief Executive Officer, Nucentrix Broadband Networks, Inc. (now President & COO, Verizon Communications)
- Mark Kelly, Chief Technology Officer, Leap Wireless
- Martin Cooper, Chairman, Ceo And Co-Founder, ArrayCommm, Inc.
- Thomas Wheeler, President And CEO, Cellular Telecommunications And Internet Association
- Carroll D. Mchenry, CEO, Nucentrix Broadband Networks
U.S. Senate Committee On Commerce, Science And Transportation: Subcommittee On Communications Holds Hearing On Third Generation Wireless
July 31, 2001
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hi), Chairman
INOUYE: Mr. Cooper?
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. It’s really a privilege for me to be here before you today, and I’m especially delighted to share the fact that I’ve spent a career of almost 50 years working on spectral efficiency and having a distinguished group like this looking at this matter is a source of great pleasure to me. It’s also a great pleasure to be the last on this agenda so that I could explain to you what my distinguished colleagues really meant to say. (LAUGHTER)
Let me start by first urging the committee to ignore the technical gobbledygook that the wireless industry, myself included, have deluged you with in the past years. I want to focus on what your real agenda is. And that agenda is the granting of rights to a national non-renewable treasury, the radio frequency spectrum. You have the obligation to see that all the users of the spectrum collectively serve the public, all the public. And any result in the way that you allocate that spectrum that excludes important constituencies of the public is just simply wrong. When we created cellular some 30 years ago, what we envisioned was a personal portable telephone service that unshackled all people from the wires that tied them to their homes, to their workplaces. We knew that wireless could deliver high quality speech at low cost with good
reliabilities to all people.
Further, we promised the FTC, and I was there and I remember this, that cellular technology was capable of continuously improving spectral efficiency. “Allocate 40 megahertz to us,” we said, “and we will grow the service indefinitely and we’ll never come back for more.” Well, we did come back. That initial 40-megahertz has grown to 170 megahertz, and here we are asking for more. Today, if the industry, the wireless industry, proposed to serve all of the personal traffic in the United States, *****that was our dream. People on the move really don’t want to talk on wired telephones. They want to talk on personal phones.
And if you put all of that traffic on wireless service, using today’s technology, you would use all of the existing spectrum. You’d use 2,000 megahertz of spectrum, and that allows no room for further growth. And it allows no room for all of the various classes of data services, that it will consume many times more spectrum than in the voice today. So that’s the real problem of the committee. If you rely on today’s technology, the need is not just for another 100 or 200 megahertz.
The demand is for another 2,000 or 4,000 megahertz, and that spectrum simply does not exist. The cellular vision that we had 30 years ago remains incomplete today. Cellular serves some segments of the population very effectively, others poorly, some not at all. So what is the answer? The only answer is new technology that not only improves, but multiplies the spectrum capacity. Technology has come through to the rescue in the past. Properly stimulated, properly stimulated, it will come through again. And that stimulation is the crucial role of this committee, of the Congress, of the FTC, of the Department of Commerce. I want to give you some examples, because I was fortunate enough to be involved in three successful government industry collaborations in the past. And the process really does work. In each case, in each of these three cases, the FCC said that new spectrum would be made available to the industry, but only if the industry could provide new ways of using that spectrum, new spectrally efficient ways of doing it.
The industry responded. In the 1960s, paging systems were developed, that could serve 100,000 subscribers in the same amount of spectrum that previously only hundreds of subscribers could be served. In the 70s, a special mobile radio service was created, SMRS. The concept of trunking was introduced into land mobile, and that multiplied the spectrum capabilities for land mobile in excess of 10 times. And in the 1980s, ellular technology brought public switch service to thousands of subscribers on every radio channel that previously had only served hundreds of subscribers. And in every case, it was technology that came to the rescue. In every case, there was a magic bullet. And who stimulated the magic bullet? The position (ph) of bodies like the FCC and this subcommittee. And here we are again. I suggest that cellular technology needs to be refreshed. The new technologies are the basis of that refreshment, and these new technologies are ready and waiting. And 3G alone does not do that. 3G itself is not a new spectrally efficient technology.
And there is a magic bullet. And that magic bullet, as was referred to by the gentleman from the Department of Defense, Dr. Wells, is the adaptive smart antennae, adaptive smart antennae array technology. Adaptive smart antennae technology has proved — this is not theoretical — it’s been proved to multiply the use of the spectrum by not just a few times, not just like percentages, but by tens of times. It’s been proved by the deployment of 90,000 bay stations throughout the world today, mostly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. And the nature of that technology was added source, ironically enough, in our own Defense Department years and years ago. Properly stimulated by the continuing oversight of Congress and the FTC, this kind of technology cannot only resolve the spectrum challenge, but it can also get American technology back into the leadership role that it deserves. So I want to close my remarks with my vision of the personal wireless future. If the future were technology becomes invisible, or the consumer range or the citizen range, where consumers of all kinds, from teenagers to seniors, from city folks to small towners, from techie early adopters to a heart patient who’s life is saved by one burst of data, we’re all of these people. And our defense forces have access to all of the radio spectrum. Technology can make that happen.
You, Senators, have the power to make that real. Take your time, and do it right. Thank you very much.