Low-power TV stations propose using own spectrum to offer wireless broadband services

A coalition consisting primarily of low-power TV stations is floating a new plan that is an alternative to the FCC taking spectrum from broadcasters on a voluntary basis, reallocating it for wireless broadband services and holding incentive auctions.

The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband is asking Congress to allow broadcasters to use some of their spectrum to offer wireless services by altering the terms of their licenses and changing technical broadcast standards. The coalition claims its idea could bring $80 billion into the U.S. Treasury between 2014 and 2023.

After that, plans are vague as to how broadcasters would offer wireless broadband services. In addition, the spectrum debate on Capitol Hill is in advanced stages.

Mark Aitken, vice president of advanced technology for Sinclair Broadcast Group, a coalition member, said broadcasters offering services could avoid the data congestion associated with the one-to-one delivery of current wireless networks.

"The only way we will solve the current problem is to use the best qualities of two distinctly different networks, by layering broadcasting on top of unicasting," Aitken was quoted as saying in Adweek.

"There would be no data usage caps and the quality of video would be higher," touted John Hane, an attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman, which represents Sinclair.

CTIA is pushing back. "This strikes me as nothing more than a self-serving arbitrage play," Jot Carpenter told Adweek. "The U.S. wireless industry has a proven record for delivering affordable broadband service. This is in stark contrast to the speculative, untested proposal advanced by the LPTV industry."

The National Association of Broadcasters said it's studying the proposal.

For more:
- see this Adweek article

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FCC should look at wireless spectrum hoarders before taking TV spectrum