The FCC is readying a public notice asking broadcasters and other parties for specific comments on the idea of reallocating TV broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband use and how it might work.
Taking the idea of reallocating TV broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband use to the next bureaucratic level, the FCC is preparing a public notice in which it will ask broadcasters and other interested parties for specific comments on the idea and how it might work.
Blair Levin, head of the FCC’s National Broadband Task Force, which is exploring ideas for improving broadband access in the United States, would not say when to expect the notice, but confirmed it would address TV spectrum, at least in part.
“There’s been enough public debate where people have been asserting things,” he said. “We’d like to get on the record real data and real ideas. We’ll see where it goes.”
Levin first floated the so-called cash-for-spectrum proposal in private discussions with broadcasters last month.
Under it, TV station licensees would give up all or some of their spectrum in exchange for a share of the proceeds from the auctioning of the spectrum to wireless operators.
Enough spectrum would be held back for broadcasting so that each TV station could continue to broadcast a single standard-definition signal.
In the press, conference calls with securities analysts and comments on a more general public notice of the National Broadband Task Force, TV broadcasters — led by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Telecasters — have rejected the idea.
The broadcasters say they want to hang on to their spectrum so that they can continue to provide HDTV service to their admittedly shrinking number of over-the-air-only viewers and begin offering mobile DTV service.
They are also wary of the FCC’s ability to make good on its promise to give broadcasters a good cut of the auction proceeds. Congress, they point out, would have the last say on that.
The CTIA, the wireless industry’s lead trade group; the Consumer Electronics Association; and others have endorsed the reallocation idea, echoing the assertions of Levin and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that the country will soon face a crippling shortage of spectrum for wireless broadband access.