US Congress Opens Up TV Spectrum

By Miguel Leiva-Gomez February 21, 2012

The United States Congress has passed a motion that will give the FCC the power to allocate a part of unlicensed television spectrum and reserve it against the new mobile spectrum auction. Some lawmakers opposed this bill, saying that they wanted all of the unlicensed space available to be auctioned. All the provisions for the spectrum are in the bill that was passed on Friday last week by both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The bill also includes some tax breaks for those on payroll.

To clear things up, unlicensed spectrum is used for network communication via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Some corporations see the unlicensed spectrum as a gold mine, since it's not being used at this moment by any television broadcaster, for a proposition for a long-distance Wi-Fi communication medium that will cover more than what wireless antennas can provide. The payroll tax bill lets the FCC sell off some of the spectrum when a TV station gives up its piece of the spectrum, giving the TV station a share of the revenue in the spectrum purchase. This is known as an "incentive auction."

Other parts of the bill awards a fat piece of the spectrum (10 MHz) to the government for public safety use, establishing a national broadband network for response teams like the police and fire departments of the country. The network will be built using $7 billion collected from "incentive auctions."

Another bill came from a Republican representative, known as the Jumpstarting Opportunity With Broadband Spectrum Act, which would have put all the new television spectrum up for auction and wouldn't have allowed the FCC to deny carriers the right to bid based on leveraging competition. The Senate and House, however, still included a provision that would forbid the FCC from denying bidders in the final draft of the payroll tax bill. This final draft was voted on Thursday and agreed upon by both the Senate and the House.


Miguel Leiva-Gomez is a professional writer with experience in computer sciences, technology, and gadgets. He has written for multiple technology and travel outlets and owns his own tech blog called The Tech Guy, where he writes educational, informative, and sometimes comedic articles for an audience that is less versed in technology.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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