As a new study from Citi Investment Research & Analysis make clear, the US does not have a spectrum shortage. We've just allowed a relatively small number of carriers to control the spectrum. Quoting the study's summary:
Today, US carriers have 538MHz of spectrum. And, additional 300MHz of additional spectrum waiting in the wings. But, only 192MHz is in use today.
Perhaps if we had an effective "use it or lose it" policy in place, or a heavy tax on unused spectrum a more vibrant market for this spectrum would emerge. But today, the problem is not a shortage of spectrum but the fact that what's out there is not being utilized.
Obviously things vary by geography, but Citi's summary is completely justified. Their methodology is thorough both as to who owns what and what is deployed county-by-county for 3100 separate counties. Here's the summary of what's in use:
and here are the details on what's currently owned by US carriers:
So why would we repack the TV broadcasters and auction off that spectrum when we've just finished putting in place unlicensed access to TV white spaces? Unlicensed spectrum will be heavily utilized while more exclusively owned spectrum will just add to the pool of under utilized resources.