Continuing its mission to free up large tracts of spectrum for mobile broadband use, FCC commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to work to reallocate some valuable spectrum currently used by TV broadcasters for mobile broadband use.
Broadcasters have been reluctant to endorse the proposal to date, but the FCC has proposed holding incentive auctions to free up the spectrum. The rulemaking action taken Tuesday could help Congress in its deliberations over the FCC's National Broadband Plan (NPB). While no decision on the NBP is expected in the current session of Congress, the FCC has been urged to make its ruling on net neutrality soon.
Tuesday's rulemaking on TV broadcast seeks to open certain TV bands for fixed, mobile and broadcast services, with the way to be sweetened for TV broadcasters by incentive auctions in which they could participate. The Tuesday vote would also open the way for some broadcasters to share a single 6 MHz channel. A third piece of the rulemaking would beef up the power and reach of VHF TV bands.
The action was immediately hailed by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the CTIA -- The Wireless Association. The CEA's president and CEO Gary Shapiro said the FCC action will help move the U.S. to "enjoy the robust mobile broadband networks that our nation so desperately needs." CTIA president Steve Largent said the FCC's action can help the wireless industry "so we can continue to assist our nation's economic recovery and so we can meet consumers' demands for mobile broadband.”
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has warned of a looming "spectrum crisis" and the FCC has been laboring to free up spectrum as smartphones and other wireless devices gobble up more and more spectrum.
Also at the Tuesday meeting, the FCC authorized a procedure that could lead to the updating of regulations for experimental spectrum licenses.