Wireless entities wanting to conduct broadband operations in South Carolina—including public-safety entities—can submit lease proposals on significant blocks of 2.5 GHZ spectrum that the state is making available though Spectrum Bridge, the online spectrum marketplace.

With as much as 196 MHz of bandwidth in some areas of the state divided into 24 MHz blocks, the South Carolina proposal is unprecedented for wireless operators, said Rick Rotondo, vice president of marketing for Spectrum Bridge.

“This will never be duplicated again,” Rotondo said. “This is truly a once-in-lifetime opportunity to get this kind of footprint with this depth of bandwidth across an entire state.”

South Carolina’s 2.5 GHz spectrum represents excess frequencies in the Educational Broadcast Service (EBS) band. With the proliferation of video via Internet-based technologies, there is less need to use the spectrum for educational broadcasting. The FCC has approved rules allowing the spectrum to be leased for other purposes, which has led to many EBS licenses being leased to commercial entities such as Clearwire, a WiMAX-based broadband service provider.

While commercial service providers are expected to be most interested in the South Carolina spectrum, the state’s RFP documents allow leeway for state officials to assess proposals based on benefits that are “both monetary and societal,” said Gary Pennington, chairman of South Carolina’s EBS Commission. This language opens the door for public-safety and government entities to make proposals, as well.

“That certainly would be criteria that we would consider,” Pennington said. “I wouldn’t want to preclude anyone from bidding on this.”

Rotondo echoed this sentiment.

“Certainly the feeling I get is that they would be willing to entertain uses for this spectrum that are in the public good, particularly if there aren’t commercial bidders for the spectrum,” he said.

Proposals for leasing the South Carolina spectrum are due Feb. 16. Details regarding the RFP process are available at www.spectrumbridge.com. Pennington said the EBS commission will receive all proposals and make a recommendation to the state’s joint bond review committee of South Carolina. The state budgeting control board, chaired by the governor, will make the final decisions regarding which proposals are accepted.

Pennington said the South Carolina commission opted to the list the 2.5 GHz spectrum with Spectrum Bridge in an effort to attract “non-traditional” potential users to the process.

“We felt that Spectrum Bridge would help us get the word out to those folks that otherwise might not (1) think about it or (2) know about it,” he said. “We tried to plant the seed to think outside of the box for the potential uses of spectrum.”