Broadcasters wary of the FCC's national broadband plan before it was released are now engaged in a fierce lobbying battle over the plan's call for broadcasters to give up their spectrum for wireless broadband use.
The agency's plan to auction off up to 120 MHz of spectrum from TV broadcasters (who would cash in on auction proceeds) is dependent on Congressional authorization as well as cooperation from broadcasters. The FCC hopes to auction broadcasters' spectrum in 2012 or 2013, and clear the band by 2015.
More than 500 broadcasters streamed to Congress during the past month to lobby against the plan. "I haven't heard one broadcaster say 'I'm interested in giving back my spectrum,'" Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, told Bloomberg.
The FCC's effort is intended to allocate more airwaves for wireless broadband networks struggling to keep up with demand--an action the wireless industry has advocated. The FCC has said it hopes to free up to 300 MHz of new spectrum for wireless during the next five years, and a total of 500 MHz in the next 10 years.
The FCC has not said how many broadcasters have agreed to participate in the spectrum auctions, but it is hoping to attract significant interest. The commission has said that the auctions will not disrupt local TV services. Nevertheless, the broadband plan said that if the agency does not get authorization for auctions, or if the auctions do not produce enough spectrum, the FCC will look for alternatives including a "transition to a cellular architecture on a voluntary or involuntary basis." The FCC might also raise fees on broadcasters or push them to share more spectrum channels.
- see this Bloomberg article
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