FCC goes searching for more spectrum

The FCC is hunting for more spectrum for wireless broadband use as part of its effort to make 500 MHz of spectrum available for mobile broadband over the next 10 years, including 300 MHz in the next five years.

The commission issued a public notice seeking comment on whether to allocate 35 MHz of the so-called Big LEO band for mobile broadband use. The spectrum, used mainly for weather balloons and satellites, sits between 1675 MHz and 1710 MHz. The notice, which said the comment period is open until June 28, is seeking comment on how the spectrum is currently being used, and if there is a more efficient way to send the traffic currently on the spectrum over land-based networks.

This new effort is just part of a wider push to free up spectrum. Last month the commission approved a plan to free 25 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband on the Wireless Communications Services spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band.

In other FCC news, Blair Levin, the former head of the FCC's national broadband plan task force, addressed the contentious issue of broadband reclassification, which the FCC is going to explore later this month at its open monthly meeting. Last month FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pushed ahead with a new legal strategy that would allow the commission to implement net neutrality regulations for wireless and wired networks. Genachowski's so-called "third way" essentially will reclassify broadband from a Title I information service to a Title II common-carrier service while at the same time forbearing from, or agreeing not to pursue, many of the regulations that are imposed on Title II services such as telephone systems.

In an interview with Broadcasting&Cable, Levin said that "10 years from now as we are trying to improve the way we handle this tremendous gift of broadband, we won't be so worried about Title I and Title II."

Telecom firms including AT&T (NYSE:T) have opposed the FCC's reclassification efforts, arguing they will stifle investment. Levin, who used to be a telecom analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, said Wall Street is very comfortable with uncertainty, and that it just needs ways to measure that uncertainty. He said investors prefer to mitigate uncertainty, especially political uncertainty. 

"But I think it is a mistake to think that anything that the commission were to do would give it the kind of certainty that some people appear to be saying is required for investment," he added. "I think if you look at the real numbers on investment, there are lots of things that affect it."

For more:
- see this GigaOM post
- see this Broadcasting&Cable article

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