FCC: Should broadcasters give up spectrum for wireless?

Following weeks of comments on the matter, the FCC is now seeking official public comment on how TV broadcasters use their current spectrum holdings, and whether they should give up some spectrum for wireless broadband use.

The notice, part of the commission's efforts to develop a national broadband plan, is sure to draw a range of comments from both sides of the debate; wireless carriers have been clamoring for more spectrum while broadcasters argue they need to hold on to their exiting airwaves. Comments are due Dec. 21.

Reallocating spectrum from broadcasters for wireless broadband services is an idea FCC officials have repeatedly floated. Indeed, Blair Levin, who heads the taskforce charged with developing the commission's national broadband plan, earlier this week seemed to signal that such a notice would be forthcoming.

"It is a bit of a mystery to me why we can't explore the idea that broadcasters might want to sell their spectrum, and that we have to close that dialogue down," he said Tuesday at a panel sponsored by the Progress & Freedom Foundation think tank. Both Levin and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski--echoing wireless players--have repeatedly said that the United States will need more spectrum to expand the reach of broadband services.

Not surprisingly, the broadcasters' lobby is opposed to the idea. "Broadcasters believe we can help the FCC accomplish its mission without stifling growth opportunities of free and local TV stations and the millions of viewers that we serve," Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, told Bloomberg.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Washington Post article
- see this FCC filing
- see this Nextgov article

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