CTIA, broadcasters intensify lobbying over spectrum

In comments to the FCC, both CTIA and wireless carriers marshaled arguments that TV broadcasters could do with less spectrum, and that underutilized spectrum should be reallocated for wireless broadband use. In opposing comments, the broadcasting lobby, including the National Association of Broadcasters, defended their use of the nation's airwaves, claiming there is already 750 MHz of spectrum that can be freed up for wireless carriers to use.

The comments rolled in yesterday in response to an FCC public notice on the topic issued earlier this month. Comments were originally due Dec. 21, but the commission extended the deadline because of the massive snowstorm that tangled Washington, D.C., during the weekend.

The CTIA was blunt in its assessment of the situation. "The record in this proceeding overwhelmingly demonstrates that current spectrum allocations for wireless services are insufficient to meet explosive demand for wireless broadband services. To meet projected demand CTIA has asked the commission to identify and allocate a significant amount of additional spectrum--at least 800 MHz--for licensed commercial wireless use," CTIA said in in its filing. "Over-the-air television broadcasters are vastly under-utilizing spectrum that would be ideal for mobile broadband use. Given the very high and growing consumer demand and the economic and public welfare benefits of mobile broadband and the inefficient use of spectrum by broadcasters, the commission should act expeditiously to provide an evaluation to Congress on the ability of broadcast spectrum to utilize less spectrum than originally authorized."

AT&T followed CTIA's lead on the issue, calling for some broadcast spectrum to be reallocated for wireless broadband use.

On the other side, NAB President Gordon Smith said the group is willing to talk with the FCC about the need for more spectrum. The organization noted that among other things, broadcasting and mobile broadband spectrum should not be an either/or choice, and that local TV stations offer social benefits not provided by other services. Additionally, broadcasters have pointed out that mobile DTV services have a bright future.

For more:
- see this CTIA filing (PDF)
- see this Multichannel News article
- see this Broadcasting & Cable article
- see this TVNewsCheck article

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