April 13, 2011

FCC Auctions TV Airwaves in Hopes of Easing Wireless Jam

A recent spectrum crisis for the mobile broadband industry is relying on the reallocation of some TV signals, Reuters has reported.

The Federal Communications Commission is looking for a congressional “okay” to host incentive auctions in an effort to compensate TV broadcasters for handing over some of their spectrum to wireless companies.

“I believe the single most important step that will drive our mobile economy and address consumer frustration is authorizing voluntary incentive auctions,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) told broadcasters at their annual convention in Las Vegas.

The FCC is considering re-auctioning up to 40 percent more of those airwaves to accommodate the congestion issue in mobile 3G and 4G broadband networks, particularly when it comes to delivering video. That’s a plan that Gordon Smith, president and CEO of NAB, feels will lead to forcible relocation of broadcasters, crowd channels closer together, reduce their coverage, destroy innovation for viewers, increase interference and degrade their signals.

“It's great you can get BBC World News and Al Jazeera on your iPhone (News - Alert),” he said. “But isn't it a greater value for a community to get local Channel 4? Why should people in Kentucky have their local stations' signal potentially degraded, so urbanites in Manhattan can have a faster download of the app telling them where the nearest spa is located?”

Smartphones and tablet computers are increasing the demand for more spectrum as 25 million Americans get their video intake from mobile devices like Apple’s (News - Alert) iPad, which puts 120 times more demand on spectrum than older phones.

“This growing demand is not going away. The result is a spectrum crunch,” Genachowski told Reuters (News - Alert). “The only thing that can address the growing overall demand for mobile is increasing the overall supply of spectrum and the efficiency of its use.”

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) said they would oppose the auctions if they appear to harm broadcasters who wish to not part with their spectrum or seem to harm viewers.

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Janice McDuffee




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