Broadcasters wary of FCC spectrum plans

Broadcasters are growing increasingly anxious over the prospect that the FCC may re-allocate broadcast spectrum for use by wireless carriers as part of its national broadband plan. Meanwhile, the FCC official in charge of the broadband plan, Blair Levin, did not seem to back away from the idea, and again stressed the need for more spectrum, likening the country's position in wireless broadband to that of former football player Doug Flutie.

According to Levin, Flutie had a lot of great attributes, but at 5'10" was short relative to many quarterbacks. "Spectrum is like height. If you don't have it, it's pretty hard to be in the big leagues," he wrote in a post on the FCC's broadband blog. "As they say, you can't coach height."

CTIA has asked the FCC to make up to 800 MHz of additional licensed spectrum available for wireless companies. Levin, in his post, wrote that there was about 50 MHz of spectrum in the pipeline, "and it's not very good spectrum for mobile broadband." Consequently, from now until February, when the broadband plan is due, the challenge will be to "understand the tough trade-offs, come up with creative options, and produce a plan that can truly help deliver all the fantastic opportunities that mobile broadband can provide," according to Levin.

Those "tough trade-offs" might involve taking spectrum from broadcasters, something they--surprise, surprise--are not keen on. "We don't know all the specifics of the FCC proposal, but at this point, it's not a very appealing proposition to most broadcasters" Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, told Reuters.

For more:
- see this FCC blog post
- see this Reuters article
- see this Washington Post article

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