Monday, November 29, 2010

FCC Proposes to Auction TV Spectrum for Wireless Broadband

The FCC is proposing voluntary broadcast spectrum auctions to boost mobile broadband services. Specifically, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted by the FCC today proposes that wireless broadband providers have equal access to television broadcast frequencies that could become available in spectrum auctions. The Notice seeks comment on establishing new allocations for both fixed and mobile wireless services in the TV broadcast bands.

The Notice also explores enabling TV stations to voluntarily combine their operations and distinct programming lineups on a single TV channel. The Notice requests comment on the proposed rules that would enable TV broadcasters to opt to share channels by further tapping the technical capabilities that became available following the nation's historic transition to digital television in 2009. Finally, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on steps that would improve TV reception on the VHF channels (2-13), such as by increasing transmitting power and establishing minimum performance standards for indoor antennas.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated: "The roughly 300 MHz of spectrum in the TV bands is among the most robust available. Beachfront property. The transition to digital made it possible to transmit over-the-air broadcast programming using less spectrum than before. While some stations are seizing the opportunity to
offer multicast streams or mobile TV that serve the public interest, others are not."

"We might think of the steady stream of broadcast DTV transmissions as trains with fixed number of boxcars delivering digital content -- but many of the boxcars are empty. This spectrum is too valuable -- and our spectrum needs too great -- for it to be used inefficiently. Especially given that less than 10% of Americans receive broadcast television only through over-the- air spectrum signals."

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