Thursday, July 19, 2012

FCC - Wireless broadband may take a while

Earlier this year, Congress gave the FCC part of what it wanted to set up a nationwide broadband WiFi service, setting aside a chunk of spectrum for wireless broadband from recovered TV broadcast spectrum.  However, the legislation also made the spectrum giveback voluntary for TV stations.  As a result, most experts foresaw difficulties in pulling together enough concentrated spectrum to generate the 80 megahertz sought.
  FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell outlined the problems at the Mobile Marketplace conference Monday.  Strong resistance from TV broadcasters make a quick, smooth, transition unlikely.  Likening the complexity of the situation to "three-level chess," McDowell outlined the FCC's current thinking on the process.
In the first phase, a “reverse auction"--in which multiple stations will compete to sell spectrum to the FCC -- those that want to turn over some or all of their spectrum can seek the price they want, but without any guarantee they'll get it.  If two or more stations in a market offer to sell spectrum, the FCC would be able to choose the lowest price. Then, in a regular “forward auction,” the FCC will resell the frequencies to wireless operators bidding for airwaves.
One problem with the current approach is that unless there is a rush by stations to give back valuable spectrum and/or tack on the costs of moving frequencies, there is no guarantee that the local 6 mHz TV channels returned will be either consistently available, or adjoining (to form coherent spectrum), on a national basis.  Thus, McDowell stressed the need to "design your apps as efficiently as possible," in order to provide the flexibility to deal with what is likely to be a piecemeal spectrum availability in the near term. 
“I don’t anticipate any major chunks of spectrum getting into the hands of consumers for the better part of a decade,” he concluded.

Source - FCC: Bandwidth Relief Not In Sight, Online Media Daily

Related posts - Congress approves TV Spectrum auction (sort of)
Spectrum Spat Continues - Will the Real Squatter Please Stand Up?


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