FCC needs spectrum
— continued from page one
Usage of our wireless networks is skyrocketing, dramatically increasing demands on both licensed and
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17:30 | ZYGMUNTLIZ
unlicensed spectrum—the invisible infrastructure on which all wireless networks depend. Our country faces a major challenge to ensure that the speed, capacity, and accessibility of our wireless networks keeps pace with these demands. The FCC has worked to free up spectrum for wireless broadband use through traditional approaches such as auctions, including clearing and reallocating government spectrum. The 2010 National Broadband Plan introduced the idea of incentive auctions as a tool to help meet the nation’s spectrum needs. Incentive auctions are a voluntary, market-based means of repurposing spectrum by encouraging licensees to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a share of the proceeds from an auction. The incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum will have three major pieces: 1. A “reverse auction” in which broadcast television licensees submit bids to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for payments; 2. A reorganization or “repacking” of the broadcast television bands in order to free up a portion of the ultra high frequency (UHF) band for other uses; and 3. A “forward auction” of initial licenses for flexible use of the newly available spectrum. Source: www.fcc.gov
said Larry Irving, whose long list of credentials include former head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “No matter where you are in America, you can’t deny the need for more spectrum — spectrum, as in the wireless broadband that we use when talking on our smartphones or accessing data through a wireless device.” The FCC also talked with broadcasters in New York City, Albany, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Nashville. More talks are planned with more broadcasters across the country in the coming months. “Data consumption is increasing exponentially,” Irvin said. “It’s like a little roadway trying to handle much more traffic than it was built to support. That’s what we’re seeing in regard to our spectrum highway. We don’t have enough spectrum currently and we’re going to need more going forward.” He said the FCC is working with broadcasters to find a “win, win, win” situation through incentive auctions. “Some of the best spectrum on the planet is the spectrum that broadcasters use and it’s best if consumers get access to more spectrum and where broadcasters get revenue while still serving the public,” he said. The FCC has gone so far as saying the dwindling
So far, owners of the TV stations have been less than thrilled with the idea because they are unsure of the risks involved, even though the FCC is predicting an overall $45-billion haul.
spectrum is a public safety issue because so many people rely on wireless devices. In 2010, the National Broadband plan gave birth to the incentive auction — something that is completely voluntary and based on market needs. Plus, broadcasters probably have a lot of unused air space. With cable saturation nearing an all-time high, more and more people rely on cable and satellite to receive a radio or television signal — not old-fashioned rabbit ears. But why sell the nation’s airwaves that belong to the public? “When I worked in the Clinton Administration, we decided that it made a lot more sense for Americans to derive some economic benefit than to just license it and not get any money,” Irving said. Please see SPECTRUM on page 48